Succeed in the workplace
Succeed in the workplace

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4 Traditional networks and their uses in career management

Photo of several people stood in the sea holding hands at sunset.
Figure 9 Traditional networks

There are different types of network, all of which can help you to shape and achieve your career aspirations.

Personal networks

Your personal network is likely to be made up of members from different areas of your life:

  • your family
  • friends
  • educational contacts
  • hobby or interest groups
  • people in a similar situation or with similar perspectives.

As well as helping you to seek work, such networks help more in general. Sometimes you may just need their encouragement to feel positive about your aspirations and achievements, or benefit from hearing the experiences of people in similar situations to you.

Organisational networks

As you learned earlier, most organisations will have a number of informal networks of people with similar values, who trust and help each other to get things done. If you rely only on formal structures, you are missing opportunities, so it is useful for you to engage with or develop more informal networks.

Three types of organisational network have been identified:

  • The ‘advice’ network – the key people others turn to for advice
  • The ‘trust’ network – in which people have common interests and enough trust to support each other in times of crisis
  • The ‘communication’ network – often known as the ‘grapevine’ – where people talk to others about work issues on a regular basis.

You can also think about wider organisational networks, which include customers, suppliers, competitors, partners, government bodies, trade unions or professional associations.

Occupation specific networks

Professional networks operate outside of organisations. For example if you have membership of a professional institution, such as the Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering, then you have access to other people in your profession whether or not you work with them. Not all occupational networks are attached to professional institutes. For example, a slimming club leader might be part of a regional network of leaders who meet for training or product updates.

For the self-employed, there are networks for local businesses who meet for mutual support. Similarly, people who perform similar voluntary work, sometimes meet formally or informally. For example, creative writers who work therapeutically with clients in hospitals and care homes might meet to share ideas.

So, you’ve now learned about different types of traditional networks, it’s time to start thinking about your own networks.

Activity 3 Your traditional networks

Timing: Allow approximately 10 minutes

For the purpose of this course you should just concentrate on contacts that you think may be helpful with your career development, otherwise your network could become unusable just due to its size!

Be careful though who you omit as it may not be immediately obvious that a contact will be useful. Think about what you know about them and what they do before dismissing them.

In your notebook write lists of people under the following headings:

  • personal networks
  • your family
  • friends
  • educational contacts
  • hobby or interest groups
  • people in a similar situation or with similar perspectives
  • organisational networks
  • occupation specific networks


Whether you have a long, a short or no list under different categories is not important. This will entirely depend on what point you are at in your life. What matters is that you have made a start on mapping your networks.

It is important not to forget about networks that are a result of the Internet. This will be more or less prominent in your life depending on how you use the Internet and how you feel about sharing information online. Whatever your situation, the next section will still give you a flavour of what is out there.

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