Have you ever wondered how the people you spend most time with impact on your life? Are they a positive or negative influence and leading you towards success or failure?

If you have personal and professional goals for 2018 then it’s time to start thinking about who might be able to help you achieve them, and also how you can help others.

You may well have heard the quote by Mark Victor Hansen that ‘your network equals your net worth’, and this is something I firmly believe in. You generally drift in the direction of your immediate circle and there are huge benefits to surrounding yourself with people who have achieved what you want to in life. But this doesn’t mean that you suddenly need to start being ruthless and cutting friends and family out of your life.

At this moment in time, my 8-year-old son only gives me unconditional love and I spend a lot of time with him but of course I’m not about to kick him out of my fab five! It’s more about making conscious choices, and here’s my simple 3 step system for upgrading your network this year.

Step 1 – What’s your ‘why’?

What is it that you want to achieve in 2018? Maybe you want to find new business opportunities or grow the business you already have. Or, perhaps you’d like to fill specific and important knowledge or skill gaps. It doesn’t always have to be related to your professional life or wealth though. You might be looking to improve your health, take up a new hobby or generally have more fun.

A great tool for helping you to evaluate where you are now in certain areas of your life and where you want to be is The Wheel of Life. Simply plot your current and ideal position in terms of wealth, health and happiness and you’ll be provided with a great visual representation of a gap analysis. It’s an especially great exercise for those of you who haven’t yet determined your goals, and even if you have, this will help give you some clarity.

Step 2 – Review your current network

Think about what you want to measure in your life. Skill development, business growth, fitness? Then list the people you spend most time with and score them positively if they are more successful than you in that area; neutrally if you are at similar levels; or negatively if you are more likely to be able to help them in that area.

Take a look at how your overall network scores. If the results show as more negative than positive, this could mean you potentially have more people making an adverse impact on your life than you do a positive one. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean you need to remove them from your network , maybe they are someone you can reach a hand down to?

Here are some other qualitative considerations when reviewing your network:

1. How much time do you spend with these people? 2. How did you meet them and why did they come into your life? Was it just circumstance? 3. Are they people you like and trust? 4. Are they ambitious, successful, wealthy, happy and enthusiastic? Or do they potentially hold you back slightly?

Decide if you want to spend more, or less, or the same amount of time with each person. You don’t have to be ruthless and you don’t have to remove anyone if you don’t want to. You could just add people.

Step 3 – Take action!

Goals don’t work, decisions do. Once you have identified some key goals, you need to think about who you know that might be able to help you. Email, call and ask people if they know anyone; offer mutual mentoring because it’s not just about what you want and join relevant live and virtual networks.

And don’t be afraid to think big. If someone particularly successful inspires you, then you may not be able to get face time with them (unless you’re willing to invest some money, which you shouldn’t rule out), but you could sign up to their podcasts and read their books for example.

And remember…

We’ve all got something to give, even if you feel like you don’t. Your past experiences and knowledge will be useful to someone. So, if you go through life reaching a hand up, asking for help, then you should also reach a hand down.

Your network is important. Be conscious about it, as you are likely to become a combination of the people you spend most of your time with.