How to use your Network to Achieve your Goals

Written by Professional Academy Management and Leadership Tutor, Kathryn Knights

Have you ever stopped to think about who you spend time with and, more importantly, how those people could be improving or damaging your ability to achieve your goals?

People and time

When you evaluate how productive you have been in a day you tend to think about how much time you have spent trying to do something i.e. you only focus on you. But there is another huge part to the productivity equation and that is who you have spent your time with.

If you were to write down who you currently spend the bulk of your time with, would they be people who lift you up in the world and help you achieve your goals or would they be people who detract from them?

That doesn’t mean that the people who pull you away from your goals are bad people, but there will be periods in your life when you are focused on achieving specific goals and it’s at those times that you need people around you who will bring you up and not drag you down.


Communication is a key element to creating and maintaining the right network for goal success. Some people have a habit of distracting you from the important tasks you need to complete. Anyone who works from home will be familiar with this. People assume they can contact you because they think you aren’t working. They aren’t doing it on purpose, it just doesn’t register with them what you’re doing.

Be assertive in telling those people that you are working and that you can’t be disturbed. ‘Working’ could be paid or unpaid work – it’s anything that’s taking you towards your goals and is important to you.

When you know what you want and you are emotionally connected to it, then it becomes easier to say, no.

The next time sometime tries to get your attention or grab your time politely tell them you are unable to meet them. Explain to them that you won’t achieve your goals and that they won’t get the best from you if you are pulled away from them.

Have the confidence to say, no.

Most people will understand.

Network audits

So you’ve reflected on the people in your life and maybe you’ve got a bitter better at declining requests for your time. Now it’s time to do a serious audit.

Think about the types of conversations you have with the people in your life. What do you talk about? Do the conversations educate, inform or entrain you? Or do they do none of those things and instead create unhappy feelings?

Be honest with yourself. Identify the people you need to stop, start and continue spending time with:

1. Stop

Improving your network isn’t about ditching your friends. Small and sustainable changes can make a big difference. For example, if you want to lose weight and save money. Instead of never seeing your friends at social events you could eat at home (avoiding the calories and expense) before heading out to meet your friends.

2. Start

There is always someone who has accomplished what you want to achieve. The trick is to find that person (or people). Maybe they are easy to find (they’re in your wider network) or maybe they’re a famous author (go to their next book launch). You don’t have to create deep relationships with all of these people but you can at least be inspired by them and get into the environments that will enable you to be as close as possible to them.

3. Continue

It pays to invest in every relationship. Put chunks of time in your calendar that you dedicate to catching up with the ‘continue’ people. Consistency is key here. You don’t need to spend hours and hours talking to people, a 10-minute chat on a regular basis is a better way to spend your time. Then just keep it going. 

If you need further advice, get in touch via LinkedIn.

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