There are three types of networks that you can build as a social change leader: Strategic Network, Operational Network and Personal Network.
- Strategic Network: A strategic network comprises people who help you define and refine your vision. They are often top-level officials and mentors capable of connecting you to scarce resources and providing high-level support towards achieving your vision. This category of people has limited availability and may not be available for regular day-to-day support. They are best suited to serve as your advisors, board members, strategists, mentors and shareholders. Managing this particular network takes more care, and you have to drive the relationship.
- Operational Network: These are often colleagues, peers and people of the same generation or calibre. This category of people can make your operation and activities easier, more effective and economical. They serve as vendors, volunteers, teammates, co-founders and partner organizations. Managing this category requires the deliberate creation of value and incentives to attract and keep them engaged.
- Personal Network: These are friends, family and close supporters. They often serve as your first team members, volunteers, customers and funders. It is important not to conflate any of the above relationships with personal relationships. While personal networks require informal engagements, the previous categories require formal interactions.
It is vital to bear all these three categories in mind as you go on the journey of networking and raising support for your social venture or seeking employment. It helps you quickly identify the possible role of each of the people you are meeting without underrating or overlooking anyone. It also helps you to handle the relationship appropriately from the very beginning.