Using the network pyramid to define and organize your network of personal relationships.

We all have different kinds of relationships with people: casual, familial, professional, intimate, etc. Throughout our lives, these relationships provide us with different levels and types of support. Your parents, siblings, teachers, doctors, employers, coworkers, and even bus or taxi drivers are all part of your personal network of relationships.

Because most job seekers get hired through a personal connection of one sort or another, knowing who is in your network is extremely important to your job search. Throughout this course you will be asked to seek information, guidance, and advice from your network, so it’s important to get your relationships properly defined and well organized now.

The Network Pyramid

A good way of organizing your network is to use the shape of a five-level pyramid, starting with a narrow peak at the top and broadening to a large base at the bottom. Each level of the pyramid contains a different group of people, based on their closeness to you.

The First Level (top of the pyramid or the point of the pyramid)

Because your personal network pyramid organizes relationships as they relate to you—and only you—you are the only person at the top level. As the pyramid broadens towards the base, the levels also get further away from you at the top. Keep this in mind as you fill in the rest of the pyramid.

The Second Level (second from the top of the pyramid or fourth from the bottom)

Level two contains the people who are closest to you. You might include on this level your parents, close siblings, spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend, religious leaders you have come to know well, and very close friends. These are the people you consider trusted intimates—those with whom you feel comfortable sharing most of your thoughts and feelings, knowing that any sensitive information would be treated confidentially.

The Third Level (the middle level of the pyramid)

The third level is the right place for most of your friends, classmates, coworkers and people with whom you often interact. This level is for established friends and solid relationships—not casual acquaintances or people you are just getting to know. Extended family members you enjoy spending time with but don’t see often are appropriate for this level as well.

The Fourth Level (second level from the bottom)

The fourth level is the place for friends-in-the-making: acquaintances you don’t currently know well, but would like to know better. Some examples: an old classmate or former friend who has drifted away but with whom you have recently established renewed contact; a neighbor you know only slightly but are getting to know better; a person you seem to bump into on a bus route or at a local restaurant, who you like but wouldn’t yet consider your friend; a coworker or classmate with whom you enjoyed going to an event and hope to do so again.

The Fifth Level (bottom level and widest level or base of the pyramid)

The fifth level of your network pyramid—the broadest—represents people you encounter only on occasion and do not have a burning desire to get to know better. Here is where to place people you pay to assist you, people whose jobs bring them into contact with you—such as your doctors, dentist, and hairdresser—and people who’ve helped you with shopping or transportation needs. In addition, the many people whose paths cross yours over time—present and former classmates, people from clubs or organizations to which you belong, casual acquaintances from the community—belong on this fifth level. The people here are not strangers, but they are also not likely to become your friends.

Next: Assignment: Your Network Pyramid   Previous: Personal Networking

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