In nearly every career field, there are three types of networks professionals can create and use. Within these three networks, you’ll have different kinds of connections. Some people will be in multiple networks, but most will only be in one.
Your operational network consists of the people within your company with whom you’ve built relationships to help you accomplish your tasks. An example would be the marketing department coordinating messaging with the social media team to make sure everyone stays on brand.
In some respects, this network of people is similar to an operational network in that it consists of people who can help you get the job done. However, in your strategic network, you can include people outside of your control to help you accomplish your tasks. For example, if you work for a nonprofit and you’re throwing a fundraiser, your strategic network might include the entertainment, the caterers, and the people who donate the auction prizes.
Your personal network consists of your personal connections and includes people mostly outside of your company, although it can include co-workers. Generally, your personal network helps you with your personal development, like finding a mentor, helping you locate clients or, of course, pointing you toward open positions.
Whom should you include in your network?
No matter what kind of professional network you’re building and maintaining, ultimately, your network is only as good as the people you connect with. Often, though, people interpret that as just including those who are in the same field or who can help them find a job.
However, when you build a professional network it’s important to include a variety of people to keep your options open. It can be hard to know where to start, so here are several types of connections you can add to your professional network.