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Types of networks
There are 3 types of networks (Uzzi and Dunlap 2005): operational, personal and strategic.
Operational networks include direct reports, superiors, people with the power to block or support a project, and key outsiders such as suppliers, distributors and customers.
Personal networks can provide important referrals, and people who can offer information and often developmental support, such as coaching and mentoring.
Strategic networks provide opportunities to look at the bigger picture through mentoring, or simply give a different perspective on your organisation.
All types of networking overlap, but strategic networking will provide the most immediate impact on your organisation. You should always look to expand your network as opportunities can be accidental. What makes a social network so powerful is its referral potential, which can expand your network.
Uzzi, Brian and Dunlap, Shannon. 2005. ‘How to Build Your Network’. Harvard Business Review 83 (12): 53.