I was talking networking with a friend recently and we were talking about how useful networking can be, how to maintain it, and how to use it to your advantage. All good topics, but topics for another day.
One of the topics that we mentioned was how you classify the people in your network. After some debate, we came up with the A, B, C classification for different groups. I’ll talk about the A Network in this post, and reserve the B and C groups for another post.
The A Network
The people that are closest to you, your “best friends”, the people that you can almost certainly count on for some professional help, these are the people in your “A” network.
Typically this is a small group that you start your networking with, likely informally. The people you work with, or used to work with, and would almost certainly do any of the following:
- Answer a phone call from
- Accept a meeting
- Ask to help you find a job
- Ask for a reference
- Meet socially
- Agree to work with again
- Have regular contact with
It’s not definite that all of these are true, but they’re very likely. These are the closest, most trustworthy, most valued people you know in your career. It’s possible that you have a great mentor, or boss or subordinate that you don’t want to know socially or work with again, but they would have to be someone you know well and trust with your career.
How large can this group be? I would think that your A network is in the 2-15 person range. Maybe slightly larger, but typically you can’t maintain tight relationships or networking with people over time. I would guess for most people, the A network is less than 10 people.
My A network is really composed of probably 6 or 7 people. These are the people I ask for references, that I can count on helping me if I need help or advice, and that I trust. Not that I don’t trust people in my B network, but I’m just not as tight with them.
Who’s in your A network? It might be worth making a list here, and making sure you continue to nurture these relationships over time. And if they’re really in your A network, you won’t mind doing that.