When I coach clients on networking, my strategy is to start with you references. They know your skills and work history best, which means they would probably be your best network contacts. Adam Grant offers a different take in a post on the blog “Big Think.” Following researchers from Stanford, Grant claims that our closest network contacts are often “redundant,” meaning they know the same things and people as we do. “Weak” contacts can offer different perspectives because they know different people and companies. Grant does not say we should ignore strong network contacts. Instead, he recommends leveraging all types of networks contacts, which is very good advice.
How can you make this advice a career management tool? Make a list of 20-50 people that you consider your network. Rank them from strongest to weakest in their ability to help you. Think about other possible “weak” contacts. Add them to your list and nurture your relationships. Finally, remember the most important rule of networking: Help other people as much as you want them to help you.