10 types of contacts you need in your professional network

Last updated: July 20, 2024
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Michael Frash
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10 types of contacts you need in your professional network
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In 2021, approximately 3.29 billion people were employed globally.

This means that there’s a lot of competition when it comes to finding a job and developing your career to its full potential.

Luckily, there’s a way for you to guarantee that you’re on top of your industry and get the most exclusive job opportunities whenever they arise.

This article will explain what networking is and why it’s important and give you a list of the 10 kinds of people you should invite into your network for a happier and more fulfilled career.

What is networking, and why is it important?

Networking is the process or action of interacting with people to exchange information and build professional connections.

Networking can take place online and offline.

Face-to-face networking

As its name suggests, face-to-face networking involves interacting with people in person. This usually takes place at corporate events or at bigger business seminars where people in the same work industries gather to talk about business and industry developments.

Social networking

Social networking involves the use of social media platforms, websites, and other online applications to interact with other users to find people who have similar interests to you or who are in a similar industry.

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Networking can be extremely advantageous to your career. Here are some of its benefits:

Strengthens professional connections

Networking is all about building trust and helping one another achieve goals. By regularly engaging with your network and helping them in their pursuits, you’ll strengthen your relationships. In turn, your connections will support and aid you in your aspirations.

Get access to exclusive job opportunities

Expanding your network can open a lot of doors for you that would’ve otherwise remained closed. According to a HubSpot survey, as many as 85% of jobs are filled through professional and personal connections.

Active networking helps you stay at the top of your connections’ minds whenever new job positions open up — and, as such, you’ll increase your likelihood of receiving job proposals.

Advances your career

To effectively build your career, you need to be visible and get noticed by the right people.

By regularly attending networking events and offering useful tips and information (both online and offline), you’ll get seen, and you’ll become known as a reliable and supportive person. This can result in promotions and career advancements.

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What kind of people should you invite into your network?

The career goals you set for yourself will determine which types of connections you need in your professional network. However, most people will require the following 10 different types of people in their network:

1. Industry expert

This is the person who’s reached the level of success that you aspire to achieve. They’re usually managers, executives, or business owners.

They’re extremely useful to have in your network since you’re able to learn from their mistakes and, in doing so, reach success faster.

These people are also there to give you wisdom and experience so that you can be great at what you do. Adding them to your network and communicating with them regularly will do wonders for your intellect.

Learn how to ask for help from industry experts.

2. Industry insider

An industry insider is someone who’s been in a specific industry for a long time and, as such, knows the ins and outs of that field.

A lot of times, industry insiders are researchers and market analysts. This means that even though they might not necessarily be experts in the implementation of certain strategies or processes, they know a great deal about it since their jobs consist of research and insights.

These people are valuable to your network as they are aware of gray areas in the industry and can give you the insights you need to navigate smartly.

Since they know the who’s and what’s of the industry, they can keep you posted on the latest happenings and give you advice on what works and what doesn’t.

3. Mentor

83% of employees worldwide believe that mentoring and coaching is the second most important way to learn about their industry.

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Having a mentor in your network is a must. Usually, mentors are people who are managers or team leaders.

They’re the people who give you constructive criticism on your ideas to make them better and more likely to succeed.

This relationship offers a unique outlook since your mentor will likely see you go through many valleys and peaks and be there as you evolve. Your mentor will want to see you grow and, therefore, will encourage you and give you advice whenever you need it.

4. Trendsetter

A trendsetter is someone who functions both inside and outside of your chosen industry and always has the latest news and trends.

These people spark innovation and build your knowledge in several different industries so that you’re able to keep conversations interesting regardless of who you’re talking to.

In other words, they can help improve your understanding of other industries so that you come across as knowledgeable and confident when speaking to any business professional.

5. Idealist

These are the people in your network that dream with you. Regardless of how “out there” your idea is, they’ll help you brainstorm and come up with a plan to make it happen.

They help flesh out your dreams without judgment and are often the people that keep you motivated in reaching your target when times get tough.

If you’re demotivated or discouraged, these are the people you want to turn to so they can get you back on track.

6. Realist

On the flip side, you also need a realist in your network. These are the people who are rational by nature and will help you keep it real.

They’ll tell you if your ideas are too outrageous and unrealistic and will give you suggestions on how to make your dream more realistic and achievable.

They’re not there to knock your dreams down but rather to help make your dreams more attainable — so that you can avoid getting burned.

7. Connector

Connectors are often extroverted people who have complete access to people, job openings, information, and resources.

When they come across certain information or resources related to your interests, they’ll send it to you. These people are great at connecting you with important business professionals you wouldn't have been able to connect with otherwise.

8. Buddy

A buddy is someone who is at the same level professionally as you are in their career or business venture.

This is a person that you can share your successes with and vice versa. Additionally, you and your buddy can also share opportunities, skills, resources, and information that are helpful in the advancement of your career.

Having a buddy in your network will increase the likelihood that you stay motivated as you’ll know that there’s always someone else who knows exactly how you’re feeling and who’s on your team no matter what.

9. Visionary

Similar to an idealist, visionaries are also people who believe in “big ideas.” However, unlike idealists, visionaries have implemented their own outrageous ideas and made a success of them.

Therefore, they’ll inspire you through their own journey. Since these people have already reached success, they can give you actionable steps to achieve the same results that they have.

Often, these people also inspire new ideas which can powerfully change the direction of your aspirations or business idea.

10. Mentee

These are the people that connect with you because they want to learn from you. In the beginning, you might not have a mentee in your network. However, as you grow in your skills and experience, people will want insights into what you’ve learned over the years.

Mentees usually consist of subordinates, students, interns, or industry juniors. By connecting with them, you establish yourself as an influencer and are able to nurture new talent.

As a result, you’ll boost your career and build your professional reputation.

Why a minimum of 10 connections is important

It’s important to have at least one of each of the people mentioned above in your network (with a mentee being the exception if you’re just starting).

As you’ve seen above, all of these people play a different role in your career — and, combined, they’ll help you make well-formed decisions that are both exciting and achievable.

By having a minimum of ten connections in your network, the chance of your network expanding organically (without you having to reach out to new people constantly) also increases as your connections will introduce you to new people.

From there, it becomes a snowball effect where you meet new people and gain new career opportunities and insights that’ll advance your career or business.

Connect with people in your industry

When it comes to career advancement, having the right kind of people and connections in your corner can make a world of difference.

Now that you know which kinds of connections you need to make, you can take it a step further and start building your network. Here’s a list of ten effective ways you can expand your network.



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