Understanding your sector
Understanding your sector

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

Free course

Understanding your sector

1 What are networks?

When we talk about a network, what do we mean? It’s easy when referring to physical things – such as computers – that are connected and might communicate with each other, but in this context we are talking about people. Which of the following would you consider to be a network?

  • A department in a company
  • A five-a-side football team
  • A reading group
  • A group of conference delegates
  • A family
  • A research group in a university

Oxford Dictionaries defines a network simply as ‘a group or system of interconnected people or things’ (Oxford Dictionaries, 2016). So, by this definition, all the above are networks of some kind. This definition neatly reflects the sense of a network as a group of people who are connected in some way.

Networks are nothing new and, in essence, have existed almost since people could communicate. All human networks are basically social networks; think about the role of families, tribes and churches, and later, of guilds, clubs, societies, etc. It is only more recently that we have begun to identify their uses for business, career and personal development.

Activity 1 Mapping your network

Timing: Allow about 5 minutes

Create a map of the various contexts in which you meet and interact with groups of people: work, social, interests, family, academic, etc. Try to be as specific as possible; there may be more than one group in your workplace, for example. The Toolkit [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]   has a Mapping your network tool to help you with this activity. Alternatively, you can draw your network in your notebook if you prefer.

Described image
Figure 2 Your network

Comment

How did you get on? Hopefully, you will have identified a reasonable number of these and your diagram might look something like the one below. You might even have had to add more boxes!

Described image
Figure 3 Suggested network

When you start to think about this, you will probably find that you already belong to more networks than you might have thought. Not all of these will be useful for work or career purposes, however, but you may not know this until you begin to look at them more closely.

UYS_1

Take your learning further371

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses372.

If you are new to university level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. Find out Where to take your learning next?373 You could either choose to start with an Access courses374or an open box module, which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification.

Not ready for University study then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn375 and sign up to our newsletter376 to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371