Types of networking
There are a number of different types of networking including operational, personal and strategic (Table 1).
Table 1. The three forms of networking1
|Purpose||Getting work done efficiently; maintaining the capacities and functions required of the group||Enhancing personal and professional development; providing referrals to useful information and contacts||Figuring out future priorities and challenges; getting stakeholder support for them.|
|Location and temporal orientation||Contacts are mostly internal and orientated towards current demands.||Contacts are mostly external and orientated towards current interests and future potential interests.||Contacts are internal and external and orientated towards the future.|
|Players and recruitment||Key contacts are relatively nondiscretionary; they are prescribed mostly by task and organizational structure, so it is very clear who is relevant.||Key contacts are mostly discretionary; it is not always clear who is relevant.||Key contacts follow from the strategic context and the organizational environment, but specific membership is discretionary; it is not always clear who is relevant.|
|Network attributes and key behaviours||Depth: building strong working relationships.||Breadth: reaching out to contacts who can make referrals.||Leverage: creating inside-outside links.|
Operational networks include not only direct reports and superiors but also people who have the power to block or support a project and key outsiders such as suppliers, distributors and customers.
Personal networks can provide important referrals, information and often developmental support such as coaching and mentoring.
Strategic networks provide opportunities to look at the bigger picture through mentoring or simply a different perspective of your organisation.
Another way to segment networking is networking and Networking.
networking develops social networks, acquaintances that do not have direct strategic importance for your organisation. However they can be a great connection with people who have the skills, knowledge and network to help you achieve your business goals.
Networking targets people important to achieving the goals of the organisation. People in your network may move into your Network as their influence on your business goals change and vise-versa.
Figure 1. Diagram depicting the exchange of people from social network to strategic Network and vise-versa.
While all types of networking overlap, strategic networking will provide the most immediate impact on your organisation and will be discussed further. That said you should always look to expand your network as opportunities can be serendipitous and what makes a social network so powerful is its referral potential which can lead to the expansion of your Network.
1 Ibarra H., Hunter M., How Leaders Create and Use Networks, Harvard Business Review, Jan 2007