Traditional networking advice says to reach out to your current network and have your ask for your next step. Which is great for your next step. What about your more long-term goal? Think about how you build your future network for success, by planning out the next 3 – 5 years. Future proof your professional life.
To help future proof this process, follow these steps:
- Think about where you want to be in five years. Don’t limit yourself. This is the time to create the life you want. And you can!
- Who will you know? Who will be your colleagues, managers, leaders in your field and communities? Who will you possibly need to know to achieve this goal?
- Work backwards to write the story about how you came to know these people. Which associations did you join? What assignments did you complete that got you recognized by senior leadership? Where did you take on leadership roles? Who made key introductions for you? How did you develop new skills and abilities?
- What do you have to do now to show up differently in order to attract the types of people you want to attract, and make the story come true? How will you stretch yourself to continue to keep moving towards your goal?
- What are key steps you can take right now to start building your ideal network and moving powerfully into the future?
- Who can be that someone in your corner, reminding you your vision is worth it, for those days when you’re not feeling it?
This new way starts in the future and works backwards.
This “from the future” networking can be scary for many, because it might mean that you might have to reinvent yourself and show up differently than you have been. Is where you are now, where you want to be in 5 years?
It has been said that if you want to marry a ten, you have to be a ten. The same is true for our network of professional relationships. If you want to be associated with top-tier professionals, you have to be one yourself. The approach outlined above forces you to think about how you show up now as a leader, and how you need to show up to attract the professional network to help you achieve that 3 – 5 year goal.
Remember, always be looking for and more importantly, open to new opportunities and people that are coming into your life and adjust your plan. This is a fluid, flowing plan, not concrete. You can do this!