I had dinner with a good friend last night, and we ended up in a discussion about networking.  After thinking about it in the shower this morning – because that’s where I do my deep thinking – I realized I gave her some incomplete advice.

From the way I see things, there are three types of networking.  You can network up. That is,  connect with people with greater skill or influence than you in an effort to improve your own position.

Or you can choose to network down.  When you network down, you connect with people who have less skill or influence than you do.  If you are a person who absolutely loves mentoring or providing advice, this is the kind of networking you might prefer.

Thirdly, there is lateral networking where your goal is to expand your sphere of connections. Doing this allows you to become a connector where you bring friends with mutual needs together.

Personally, I think that smart networking is a combination of all three. Ultimately, however, the main leg of your Everyone has to choose how they want to interact with people.  If you aren’t interested in becoming a person of influence or increasing your visibility, then don’t stress out about networking with leadership or best sellers.  If your soul is fed by helping others, look for writers who need a mentor and become one.   The bottom line is that your personal network is just that …. personal.  How you build or not build it is up to you.

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