Direct contacts are those people who you know and deal with on a personal level, people with whom you can easily get in touch. They are usually family members or close friends, as such, they are generally limited in number.
They know you and about you as a professional and can help you by offering opportunities, talking to others, passing on other contacts... They are part of your personal as well as your professional surroundings.
It is important to know what kind of information each contact has and to propose a clear plan of action. For example: Do you know someone who works in this sector? In this company? Could Silvia—who used to be the head of human resources—introduce me? Could you recommend a job in the sector that you feel to be relevant?
Even though your direct contacts are people very close to you, it’s important to remember the philosophy that must be in place behind the network. The trust that you have in them shouldn’t be translated into pressure or insistence, nor in transferring your responsibility. Consider, above all, in how you could help them, act generously, always being genuinely thankful for the help you may receive.
Your direct contacts have their own network. The people who form this network are your indirect contacts, as well as acquaintances and second-degree contacts. With them, compared to your direct or first-degree contacts, interaction is more sporadic, since they belong to different social circles than your own.
For that reason, if you want to form an effective network of contacts it’s important to get in touch with these people who you don’t know directly, but whom you have the possibility of accessing, in the sense that they are contacts of your contacts.
The key to networking is getting in touch with your contact’s contacts, with your own network growing considerably in the process. Don’t forget to reference your mutual contact and also think about connecting people from different backgrounds who you think could be interested in getting to know one another.
Given that you don’t know these contacts directly, and you have no personal dealings with them, it’s up to you to offer them a competent professional image in your field. Networking helps to spread your personal brand, as well as allowing up to keep up to date and learn from others.