Over the years I’ve had thousands of networking conversations to provide advice to executive job seekers. My number one piece of advice: Build a target list.

Networking is a lot of work. If you don’t prepare appropriately, it can waste an enormous amount of time. To get follow-up meetings and introductions you have to make it as easy as possible for the person you are meeting. Help them help you.

Why Your Target List Is Critical to Your Next Executive Job

One of most important objectives of a networking meeting is to get introductions to others who can help you find your next executive job position. Usually the question goes something like this:

“So, anyone in your network you think it would be good for me to meet?”

When a person who has agreed to help you hears this, their mind starts to race, they want to help but have over 6000 contacts in their network. The thought of having to scroll through and decide who they think is a good intro and to then go through the work of making the intro suddenly seems daunting.

Most of the time the answer is: “Sure, let me take a look and get back to you.” And most of the time it ends there.

Here’s where the target list comes in, and yes, it takes some work. You know who you are meeting, where they have worked, and who is probably in their network. Through some simple LinkedIn searches, you can know specifically who they are connected to. You also know the type of companies you want to work for. You can build your target list based off the industry, company, and geography. And, based on what you know about the person you are meeting, you can build a list that increases the likelihood they know someone at one of your target companies.

Once you’ve built your list, send it to the person before your networking meeting and let them know you would like to discuss it. The list can be 15-20 companies and individuals you would like to connect with.

The list is critical because it makes it easy for the person to help you. You are telling them exactly what companies and people you would like to be introduced to. The list takes all the effort and guess work out of their hands, and it’s quick and easy for them to scroll through.

Most importantly, it’s actually going to get you introductions to your next executive job.