Here’s the bottom line — we don't need more contacts, we don't need more friends and we don't necessarily need to spend more time connecting online. If all we needed was this, then every single one of us would be basking in unparalleled success just from the sheer number of opportunities we have to connect.

It was leadership expert John C Maxwell who said, “Those closest to you determine your level of success, and so choosing the right companions as partners in pursuit of your vision is an important decision.”

There is no doubt that networking and building a sales lead generation list is critical for business growth. However, there is so much more to networking than collecting friends and connections. To really succeed you must become the master of your personal network — it’s who is in your network that really matters. Whether we like it or not, we are all greatly influenced by those closest to us: our confidence, the decisions we make, our thinking, our belief in the possibility and ourselves.

So who are the right people to have in your network?

Promoters

Your own personal cheerleading squad is key to your success. They are with you by your side through thick or thin, never giving up on you, always dreaming big with you. Promoters pull you toward your future dreams, make noise about potential possibilities, spend time with you to explore how you’re going to achieve your goals and inspire you to become more.

According to research from the Centre For Talent Innovation, people with promoters (aka sponsors) are 23% more likely to move up in their career than those without sponsors. In addition, a 2011 study from the Centre For Work Life Policy published by the Harvard Business Review found that active promotion of others can result in as much as a 30% increase in promotions, pay rises and projects for the person being sponsored.

Pit Crew

Climbing the ladder of success can be a lonely task. The journey requires grit, determination and perseverance. We all experience days of frustration and disappointment, days when we have to face our fears, make tough decisions, push past failures and keep focused on opportunities that lie outside our comfort zone. Having the right crew to keep you mentally tough and balanced, is not just crucial — it’s essential.

Like a Formula One pit stop, your pit crew can make or break a race. They add stamina to run the marathon of your dream, to navigate complexities and recover from setbacks. They help you learn from mistakes and keep pushing you on anyway. They celebrate your wins, remind you of your achievements and keep it real.

Teachers

A life of continuous learning is essential for growth. Successful people know this; that’s why they have an insatiable desire and commitment to learn more, in more ways than one.

Harvard professor Linda Hill says, “You can’t think of something new unless you are being pushed to think in new directions, and you can’t do that unless you are engaging with people who have a different viewpoint.”

The right teachers teach you mastery, guide and stretch your thinking, challenge your ideas and encourage you to push further because they know that this constant curiosity creates real opportunity for growth, achievement and success.

Butt – kickers

Love them or hate them, we all need butt-kickers — those individuals that help accelerate the journey, pushing you to do more and holding you accountable for all your actions.

Butt-kickers are masters of delivery. They hold you accountable for your actions and decisions, and ensure you do what you say you are going to do — and then some. Your butt-kicker is equivalent to your personal trainer at the gym. They count your push-ups and pull-ups, and they always make you do one extra for good measure.

Linda Galindo, author of The 85% Solution: How Personal Accountability Guarantees Success, believes butt-kickers are our secret weapon to success: “Working with a partner prevents the ready-fire-aim approach that a lot of entrepreneurs use,” she says.

Don't let your network whirl around you at the speed of a tornado. Get in control and build something that works for you. Networking matters, and always will, but it’s who’s in your network that matters more.