Let’s face it: professional networking is a way of life. Say you’ve signed up for a networking event and checked out the background of other participants. Yet you still may walk into that party with no clue about whom you want to connect with. As we women face an ever more competitive working world, we need to nurture our network if we want our careers to thrive.

This is not about the number of contacts in a Facebook account or the number of business cards you bring home from that networking event. It’s about establishing relationships with well-connected professionals with an interest in your line of work. Referrals and advice from your core group will help you weave an ever-growing web of contacts – career-boosters who will help you get that next job, advance within your field, tweak your speciality area and even achieve your ultimate career goals! But it takes some thought to network with the right people.

Related: Modern Women’s Dilemma: Asking For Help Is NOT A Sin

Your professional networking base should consist of three main categories of people: the visionaries, the realists and the connectors.

Network The Right Way : The Visionaries

Demotivated or disheartened about the future of your career? Then it’s the visionaries you should focus on in your networking core. These people inspire you and motivate you. These people help you envision a better tomorrow for your career. These visionaries encourage you to push the envelope and elevate your career goals. They help you see your strengths and recognise the obstacles you overcame to get where you are today. The visionaries can be your mentors, successful leaders, a coach, an idealist, a trendsetter. These people make you realise that you can attain success because they show you that they have also accomplished it.

Your mentor should be someone who is not only living the success you seek but has also inspired you to choose the career you’re pursuing. Mentors present you with the opportunity to learn from their wise strategies as well as their blunders. These people understand your potential because they’ve seen you evolve to where you are today.

A coach is a person who loves to enter your life whenever you’re facing issues or crises. This person provides neutral views on your next step when you are feeling confused about a matter. A coach can guide you help make critical decisions and changes using logic and reasoning.

Network with successful leaders of various organisations relative to your field. Maintain a good relationship with your previous employers at all times. Although they may seem aloof with you, they can guide you professionally so that you get answers to the tough career related-questions on your mind.

Visionaries can be quite easily found because they are often present at career-related events launching their own new developments and implementing their concepts.  For a start, attend seminars relevant to your field and keep your eyes and ears open!

Network The Right Way : The Realists

The realists in your network are the people who keep your feet on the ground. They make sure that your visions and career objectives are not unachievable. Furthermore, the realists will help you figure out whether your approaches to career and life in general are realistic. Realists may comprise people like an expert in finance.  A positive realist will never kill your dreams but will suggest useful techniques to give you a better chance of accomplishing them.

A finance expert will help you be money-savvy. He/she can advise you on how to best manage your expenditures and savings. Your financially-aware friend will also remind you constantly to pay close attention to your money.

How to identify the realists? Try looking out for people who are rapidly ascending in their careers through frequent promotions. These are the people who know how to get things done.

Network The Right Way : The Connectors

Keep your eyes open for people whose own network is expanding. They have a natural instinct to constantly connect with people. Connectors will help you grow your own network and get acquainted with interesting individuals. These people do not necessarily have to be extroverts. Introverts can also be connectors; the main thing is that they share their latest information and resources with you. It’s all about you ending up on the right path to achieving success! A connector may be an industry insider divulging that not-yet-published company news or a trendsetter keeping you updated on the latest ideas and processes.

You’ll locate connectors by noting their huge popularity on social media platforms. And they’re always the busy ones managing their active schedules and bursting calendars.

Read: 3 Great Investors of Our Time … and their Strategies!

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C.E.O @ The New Savvy
Anna Haotanto is passionate about finance, education, women empowerment and children’s issues. Anna has been featured in CNBC, Forbes, The Straits Times, Business Insider, INC and The Peak Singapore. She was nominated and selected for FORTUNE Most Powerful Women conference in 2016 (Asia) and 2015 (San Francisco, Next Gen). Anna has 10 years of experience in the financial sector and is currently a Director in Tera Capital. Her previous work experience includes positions at Citigroup, United Overseas Bank, a regional role in Business Monitor and a boutique private equity firm based in Shanghai. She graduated from Singapore Management University (Finance and Quantitative Finance).