Network goal setting


Does your organizational track record read like Craig’s List’s Missed Connections?

  • Saw you at that conference last month; we talked about forming a coalition (last month)
  • Bumped in to you at a café, can you put me in touch with your ED? (2 days ago)
  • Still looking for ideal partner for large event next month (yesterday)
  • You look like you need some funding; so do I: let’s co-write a grant! (today)

It doesn’t have to. With a clear set of network goals, you can network more intentionally while working collaboratively toward a larger vision.

How network goals differ from organizational goals and why this matters

Network goals let you:

  • See beyond the boundaries of your organization. Strategic planning doesn’t look very much outside of the organization, mostly focuses on internal efficiencies.  Brainstorming around an activity like a SWOT analysis might elicit some general trends outside the organization, however, network goal setting and analysis focuses on looking at the organizational context.
  • Focus on the vision, not just your mission (see the bigger picture, systemically)
  • Benchmark progress, not just for your organization and its mission, but for a group of organizations working toward a common or connected vision

Examples of network goals

You probably already have some inklings and anecdotes about the following list.  However, making these goals explicit and creating tracking metrics will help you know for sure and see them change over time.

Some examples of goals that could apply to your network are:

  • Understand how your org is situated within larger context (eg. is your organization the only one with a particular skillset?)
  • Can help to understand your part in addressing a larger issue (eg. vision, not just mission)
  • Discover marginalized and underrepresented groups – who’s not here, who are we not reaching?
  • Decentralize power of your org / empower other groups within the network
  • Be a better connector (act as bridge) and build this skill elsewhere within the network
  • Explore where specific capacities and resources exist within the network; seek to distribute or concentrate them depending on broader goals
  • Measure and understand these dynamics and evaluate over time


  • Strong network goals let you build a network intentionally rather than randomly.
  • Builds capacity in other groups; connects other groups – makes less work for you
  • Effort toward vision of your org, not just mission – looks at systems level of issues rather than day-to-day
  • Start thinking about interventions at the network level, so your efforts don’t just strengthen your work, but the work of the network and thus affects the vision


  • Similar to setting other goals: should be SMART, takes time, change through multiple revisions.
  • Stay tuned for the next post on Network Goal Discovery (currently in progress!).

Would creating explicit network goals help your organization achieve its vision?  I’d love to hear your thoughts, comments, questions about this topic and engage in a discussion with you!




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