Having the right people in your professional network matters just as much as having enough people in it does. You need contacts who can help you in a variety of ways, and as you grow your network, you’ll discover that it becomes more well rounded and more useful to you. With that in mind, look for the following people as you network:
* A mentor—Mentors have already been where you would like to be and can help you get there. They like you well enough to be interested in your life for a long period and are willing to offer you lessons drawn from their experiences.
* An insider—Insiders already work in an industry or at a company you’d like to join. They have expertise and information you won’t be able to access anywhere else and often serve as a good sounding board for your goals and ideas.
* A connector—Connectors enjoy putting people in touch with one another in mutually beneficial ways. They’re the kind of people who send you information they think might relate to you, and they can be very useful in helping you find unexpected opportunities.
* A peer—Peers have similar goals to you and are in similar places on their career paths. They help you by sharing information and resources as well as by providing emotional support, cheering your successes or commiserating with you over your hardships.
* An up-and-comer—Finding someone that you can mentor can help your career in numerous ways. Mentoring someone not only helps you distill lessons from your work experiences, but it can also motivate you to remain positive through tough times. It’s easier to do your best when you know that somebody is watching you.
* A rising star—Rising stars have great potential, and by befriending them early you can start a long-term relationship that might yield great benefits to both of you in the future. Today’s talented analyst, after all, might be tomorrow’s successful venture capitalist