Looking for a breakthrough in career or scaling a new height in current profession aren’t done by conventional methods any more. It is not just limited to applying for jobs, approaching the recruiter or floating your CV across channels. This is the age of networking. Networking means connecting with people on professional terms but at a much deeper level. If you want professional success, it is very crucial to have a strong network. Every person you connect with has the potential to lead to another person, hence it is called a network.

To get maximum results, networking must be done strategically and not randomly. Who you choose to add to your network makes a huge difference in this exercise.

Your contacts fall into several groups. One group consists of those you know closely and are in regular touch, the second group consists of those whom were close but not in touch anymore like your school or college friends or ex-colleagues. The Third group consists of people who have enough experience and are quite established in their careers. They may also consist of entrepreneurs or business leaders.

Here is a list of six kinds of people you must have on your network list: 

  •   The expert: 

         There are various experts in the field you desire to make a mark in. These experts can include researchers, academicians, journalists, market consultants, leaders or founders of professional associations etc. To keep growing in your career you need the advice and wisdom of industry experts so that you can amp up your knowledge quotient. Adding experts from your field as well as associated discipline and communicating with them regularly does wonders to your intellect in the long run.

  • The Industry insider: 

This person may not be a total expert but is an old-timer in the industry and has complete knowledge about its functioning. He is the one who is also aware of the grey areas and can give you tips about how to navigate smartly. He has access to the who’s who of the industry and can give you complete advice on what works and what not. Not just that he can also keep you posted about the latest happenings and what’s coming up next.

  • The connector:

He is the person who has complete access to the people, information, resources, and job openings. Once he comes across anything related to your interest, he will forward it to you. These people are great in getting connected you to some of the unlikeliest people, who wouldn’t get through otherwise.

  • The Mentor: 

This person may be a teacher or someone who has seen your work previously. In most cases, these people can be ex-team leaders as well. You may have the best ideas to put forth, but some constructive criticism is definitely needed to get you on track. The mentor is the person who has a particular interest in seeing you grow and has an objective view of everything. He doesn’t just stop on feedback, he also goes beyond that and encourages you to follow the correct path, do the right thing and achieve your goals.

  • The partner: 

You may be a budding entrepreneur, a project leader, or corporate training. In all these cases you require a partner to take your business ahead. These people are at the same level professionally but bring in a skill set that complements yours. Together you make a great team and a professional association between the two of you can help you both to realise a goal jointly.

  • The Mentee:

There are many who would like to connect with you because they want to learn a lot from you. They could be your friends, subordinates at work or juniors at college. Connecting with them gives you an opportunity to nurture upcoming talent, and establish yourself as an influencer. Both these situations will give a great boost to your career and professional standing.

Adopt a structured approach to networking 

If you have these 6 main types of contacts on your list, you should have a strong network. Of course, you can have more people on your network but make sure that your choice of people is aligned to your networking objectives. Once you have created your network, ensure to have regular communication and exchange of ideas with them.

First, rank your contacts in order of importance. Their importance must be decided in context to your professional goals. The highest rank will be for people who are most relevant to your goals and the lowest rank will be for people least relevant to your role. You must decide to allocate your timing based on the ranking and plan accordingly. Once you proceed with a structured approach, you will move closer to your goals in no time.