The 6 Types of People You Need in Your Network

image of a network grid with the blog post The 6 Types of People You Need in Your Network

You hear it all the time, “it’s not what you know it’s who you know”.  We’ll explore just “who” should be in your network….

Click the player to listen to this episode of The BIGG Success Show Podcast. Below is a summary.

Entrepreneurs do a great job of leveraging their resources, and your network is a BIGG resource!

That’s where you will find customers, employees, mentors, brand advocates, and more.

And while social media networks like LinkedIn allow us to grow our networks faster than ever, new research shows that having a large network may not be the way to go.

To build a strong network – who do you need to connect with?

Rob Cross, of UVA’s McIntire School of Commerce and Robert J. Thomas, of the Accenture Institute for High Performance, wrote a book about leveraging networks. They found that happiest and highest-performing executives had close connections with a small but diverse group of people who held a variety of roles along the corporate ladder, and had some specific characteristics.

Let’s go to The Professor’s Whiteboard for the 6 types of people you need in your network…

Professors Whiteboard 1092-6 types of people you need in your network

For fun, we gave each network-type a name, based on their definitions from the book, which we include below.

1) Collaborators

People who offer you new information or expertise, including internal or external clients, who increase your market awareness; peers in other functions, divisions, or geographies, who share best practices; and contacts in other industries, who inspire innovation.

2) Influencers

Formally powerful people, who provide mentoring, sense-making, political support, and resources; and informally powerful people, who offer influence, help coordinating projects, and support among the rank and file.

3) Responders

People who give you developmental feedback, challenge your decisions, and push you to be better. At an early career stage, an employee might get this from a boss or customers; later, it tends to come from coaches, trusted colleagues, or a spouse.

4) Supporters

People who provide personal support, such as colleagues who help you get back on track when you’re having a bad day or friends with whom you can just be yourself.

5) Believers

People who add a sense of purpose or worth, such as bosses and customers who validate your work, and family members and other stakeholders who show your work has a broader meaning.

6) Boundary-Keepers

People who promote your work/life balance, holding you accountable for activities that improve your physical health (such as sports), mental engagement (such as hobbies or educational classes), or spiritual well-being (music, religion, art, or volunteer work).

According to the book, in addition to the 6 types of people, the best kind of connections are “energizers” — positive, trustworthy individuals who enjoy other people and always see opportunities, even in challenging situations.

On the podcast, we give a shout out to people in our network who fit each each of these network types. Click the player above to listen.

BIGG Takeaway

If your network doesn’t look like this, Cross and Thomas say you can follow a four-step process to improve it.

  • Identify who your connections are and what they offer you.
  • Back away from redundant and energy-draining connections.
  • Fill holes in your network with the right kind of people.
  • Work to make the most of your contacts.

Build a strong, strategic network so that “who you know” helps to elevate “what you know.”  That leads to BIGG Success.

signatures: George & Mary-Lynn
George “The Professor” & Mary-Lynn
Co-Founders, BIGG Success

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