Categorizing Your Network For Maximum Impact

How do you organize your network?  Is it one big collection of names or do you try and categorize the people you are connected with?  There has long been a discussion surrounding quality versus quantity, however, maybe that’s not so relevant any longer.  More is better, ALWAYS.  However, it all comes back to knowing the value of your contacts.  List building and understanding who is within the list provides you with the necessary resources, yet the trick is knowing who is useful for what and having a way to efficiently interact and keep in touch.

During a Twitter chat the other day, Bill Boorman (@BillBoorman), who actively discusses Recruiting, Technology, Human Resources, Social Media Technology and what is happening with #tru events (The Recruiting Unconference), suggested having a network within a network.  He referenced a recent post he wrote on the topic of influence, aka, your network.  Here is his post:  Influenced? from Norton Fulgate:  The Recruiting Unblog.  Bill categorizes his connections into these categories:

  • Sharers
  • Contributors
  • Go To Guys and Gals
  • Introducers
  • Magnets
  • Reporters

To further understand his logic and definition of these categories, please, go read his post!

There are other ways to think about categorizing or organizing your network.  Let’s say you are using Twitalyzer or a similar monitoring service.  Rather than invent your own tags, categories, lists or whatever, just implement their logic across your own network.  They use a model based on “The 5 Types of Influencers on the Web”  by @LisaBarone.  In summary, they categorize the influence of your network in this way:

  • Everyday Users have a small circle of influence but great potential
  • Reporters are connected people and great communicators
  • Social Butterflies are very active within their individual networks
  • Trendsetters are early adopters who love to share new ideas
  • Thought Leaders are the voices people listen to most

Personally, I have different ways of organizing my connections.  I am not sure I love it, but for now it is working. What I have found is that people can sometimes cross over into multiple tags/lists/groups.

On LinkedIn, I provide “tags” based on how I know the person.  For example:

  • group members
  • friends
  • colleagues
  • partners
  • recruiter
  • classmates

On Twitter, I create lists based on the industry or occupation of followers and those I follow.  Some of these include:

  • Social Media
  • Small Business
  • Career Experts
  • HR Pros
  • Recruiters

I provide similar tags, known as lists on Facebook-  mostly for security/privacy reasons (which opens up a whole can of worms).  I prefer to use Facebook mostly for friends and family, so I presume that most of my contacts will be just that.  Then for others I use “how I know them” for the lists they filter into.

Does it really matter how you categorize your networks? As long as it makes sense for you and more importantly, you are able to use it strategically.   Ask yourself, does it help to think about the frequency of interaction and monitoring within your network.  Does it allow you to tap into your network effectively?   Your network is a rich collection of resources.  It is a goldmine.  How do you manage it?

Career Sherpa can be found on Twitter at @careersherpa, feel free to follow if you like what you see here.  You can also find her on Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Stumbleupon.   Hannah Morgan, aka, Career Sherpa provides advice and information related to reputation management, career management and job search.  Her website is:

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  1. 1
    Wise Man Say

    Hannah, good post, got me thinking.

    It’s clear that tagging is better than categories or lists. There are always going to be cross overs, transitions and changes – fixed categories simply cannot keep up with the dynamic nature of social networks. The risk of Bill’s strategy of a ‘network within a network’ is precisely it’s failure to capture the movement inherent in social relationships – we have surely all once been lurkers, broadcasters and butterflies at different stages in our social lives – but have transitioned and continue to transition as we muddle our way through. It’ll be a full time job to continually update and segment your contacts, if we go for the network-in-a-network idea.

    But where is the functionality to help us do the tagging? The only major social network that supports any kind of tagging function is the one where it is probably least necessary – LinkedIn. And this function is so under-the-radar, it’s hardly used or mentioned by anybody.

    The solution will come from social CRM, rather than social networks, I think. It will take an organisation that genuinely embraces the use of the ‘social graph’ for sales (facebook, twitter et al seem to be philosophically against). I’d be interested to hear from anyone whose got an early tip for who that company might be.

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