Choosing the Right Connections for your Network - by AIM
Networking requires more than just knowing an abundance of people. If you want to have a successful network that will do wonders for your career, you need to make sure you take the time to know the right people. Doing so will help ensure the best outcome possible, in terms of career progression and growth.
The mentor. The mentor is perhaps one of the most essential people to have in your network. At one point or another, everyone needs some guidance when it comes to their career. Having a mentor who will always have your back is one of the best ways to help you grow into the successful person you want to be, so do your best to find a mentor and stick with them.
The authority/expert. Similar to the mentor, an authority or expert in the field is there to help you learn. The main difference, however, is that what you learn from them is specialized, whereas a mentor’s influence can extend beyond that. Having this kind of person around is great for helping you hone in on the necessary skills that will help you become an expert in the field yourself, which can definitely be a plus when someone ends up coming to you for the same kind of help.
The outsider. While it might seem strange to have someone in your network who isn’t working in your field, the truth is, they can end up making a bigger impact than you’d think. The outsider is someone who may not exactly know the specifics of your field, but that kind of third-party perspective may be just what you need in order to understand how others view what you are doing. Not only that, but having an outsider in your network can also help you become familiar with a whole new field, giving you the opportunity to learn more and gain a broader perspective.
The colleague. Friends are always there to have your back, and no friend is more important than a colleague when you need help on the job, whether it has to do with a huge project, or covering for a family emergency. Having a colleague who will look out for you is essential. Colleagues can also be great advocates and references when you are looking to move up, so make sure you always have one on deck.
The client. The benefit of having clients in your network extends a lot further than just buying your goods or services. Building a strong relationship with your clients can do wonders for your networking because they give you an insider perspective on what other customers may want, as well as a great resource for referrals to other customers/clients who may be in need of your services.
The thought-leader (innovator). Finally, find someone who is always looking for the next big thing. Whether they’re in your field or not, having someone in your network who values progression and is always trying to push the envelope is definitely a great asset. Not only will it help to broaden your perspective on big picture thinking, but it will also hopefully push you to think beyond your everyday tasks and innovate yourself.