When it comes to your network, you have to strike a cool balance. To ensure you’re building the right kind of network, it is important to note that adding people to your network for reasons both substantive and shallow is not only acceptable, it’s encouraged. Why? Because your network, when strategically built, should also be well balanced. I’ve created the “Seven Layers of Your Personal Network” to help you evaluate your current network and determine where you might need to add a few people here and there.
1. The “Move A Body” Friend
Brene Brown once said we should all have at least one friend who would, without hesitation, “help you move a body.” Now, let’s hope you never call anyone looking for a shovel. But if you did, ask yourself this: Who would you call? We sometimes forget to include these people in our network because their connection with is intensely personal and not professional. Big mistake!
2. Cheerleaders And Shoulders To Cry On
Hopefully, you’ve collected quite a few people who rest in this second layer of your personal network. They’re the kind of friends you’d call if you went through a break-up, needed help moving across town, or wanted someone to look over a cover letter before you apply for a job. They’re the first people you’d call when you need a boost or had a bad day, and the easiest people in your life to show your true feelings to.
3. Cheers To You!
This layer consists of people you’d invite to your birthday party at the hot new restaurant, the people you’d call when you’re in the mood for a Wednesday night happy hour, and generally fall more into the “friend” category than the “business connection” category. They’re an important part of your network because their relationship with you is largely personal, but they’re usually willing to act as a reference, connect you to someone they know at a company you might be interested in, and if they’re a social butterfly, even better!
4. Coffee Mates And Lunch Dates
When you’re thinking about the kinds of people who reside in this layer, you’ll think about former co-workers you continue to keep in touch with, individuals you may have met at a professional luncheon or event, potential employers you’re networking with intentionally, and others you’d consider close to you, but in a professional capacity only.
5. Conjunction Connections
Any child of the 1970s or 1980s will remember School House Rock. One of its most famous ditties went like this, “Conjunction junction, what’s your function? Hooking up words and phrases and clauses.” It’s exactly that reason that the fifth layer of your personal network is labeled “Conjunction Connections.” The people in this layer aren’t “hooking up words and phrases and clauses” but they are hooking up people and information and opportunities. They don’t know everybody, but the people they do know, they’re always linking to one another.
6. Stand Still, Look Pretty
We don’t always want to admit it, but we all have these people in our networks. They’re, for lack of a better word, decorative. You’ve done work with them, and they tend to have a good name in their field, but you know and so does everyone else that they’re all talk, little substance. Why is this person valuable to your network? Because she knows everybody! Usually, these “Stand Still, Look Pretty” types are also pretty big gossips, and you don’t want to be on her bad side.
7. What’s Your Name Again?
The seventh layer of your personal network is clear. You met someone, you took their business card, and maybe you even added them as a LinkedIn connection or followed them on Twitter. But the truth is, you would struggle to remember their name or their face if casually asked. If you wanted to get in touch with one of these connections, you’d begin your email by reminding her where you met or a little about yourself because you know that, for her, you’re likely a seventh layer connection as well.
You’ve hopefully taken the time to both think through and list out a number of your connections in each of the seven layers of your personal network. Which layers are you heavy in and which have fewer connections? None of these results is good or bad. It simply helps you to see the current diversity of your network specifically related to their proximity to you and your ability to immediately connect with them on certain issues and needs.
This is a book excerpt with minor edits from You Know Everybody! A Career Girl’s Guide to Building a Network That Works by Marcy Twete.