Who to have in your network

As a director, manager or business owner you are well-aware of the value of expanding your network. Having a strong professional network has various benefits. It is well-known fact that your network can help you get introduced to more people and in time you can learn from these people in your business network. As you move through the ranks of the professional business environment you will see that relationships with the right people can present many opportunities.

When it comes to business relationships, it is better to focus on quality rather than quantity!  Having lasting relationships with people who understand your business and can help you over time is the real key to networking success. But who must you have in your network?

Instead of forcing yourself to meet and greet as many new people as possible, spend your time focusing on a few strategic relationships. There are a couple of types of people that are key to a good network. Below are the six types of people every good network should have: 

The Connector
Connectors are people who know tons of people, are always meeting new people, and make a practice of connecting these people to each other. This segment may be the most important part of your network. Connectors are people with a large network of their own who like to share connections. They have access to people, resources, and information, and are generous with their time and their contacts. By connecting with connectors, you can extend your reach tremendously.

The Mentor
The Mentor is a seasoned veteran with considerable industry experience. The Mentor cannot open as many doors as the Connector, but that is not why he or she is important. This is the person who has reached the level of success you aspire to have. You can learn from their success as well as their mistakes. This relationship offers a unique perspective because they have known you through several peaks and valleys in your life and watched you evolve.

The Rising Star
This specific person is, in all likelihood, still in a junior position and the small network he or she operates in probably means they will not be able to help you. Instead, you should help them! Try to build relationships and help Rising Stars as much as you can. A couple of years from now these might be the influential people you need in your network. It is never too early to start identifying Rising Stars and adding them to your network. The key is to build genuine relationships for the long-term.

The Idealist
The Idealist is the person in your network you can dream with. No matter how bizarre your latest idea might seem, the Idealist will help you brainstorm and find ways to make it happen. Idealists will help you pen down ideas, even if you do not have a solid plan in place to make it happen.

The Realist
The Realist is the person in your network who will keep you grounded and help you create a balanced approach to your goals. In your conversations, the Realist will help you find ways to improve on your ideas rather than just shut them down and force you to think clearly and level-headedly on the matter. The Realist will help you organise your thoughts and create a plan for your goals.

The Leader
The Leader is someone in your network who is smart and makes you think differently. These are people you look up to purely from a professional point-of-view. Leaders can be anyone who asks the tough questions and does not mind pushing the boundaries occasionally. Very few business strategies (or integrated decisions) are automatically right or wrong. The Leader will challenge what you think and can be a great platform to bounce your decisions off.

Focus on making quality connections that can provide you with actual value, both now and in the future. Build a diverse network by adding people from different industries, backgrounds, age groups, ethnic groups that fit into the roles listed above. These people are the core of an effective network, and connecting with them, and nurturing that connection, is key to a successful network.

For more information contact Francois Pretorius at francois@succeedgroup.co.za

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein.