My dear friend, Janet, was reassuring me the other day that we’re unlikely to get Alzheimer’s disease because we’re very social.  We love our friends & family and strive to spend time with them.  Multiple studies have found:

Having close friends and staying in contact with family members offers a protective effect against the damaging effects of Alzheimer’s disease according to research by physicians at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. (Source)

I hope this is true.  This discussion also got me thinking about the different kinds of networks we all need as professionals.

Personal/Social Network
This is the network related to happiness.  These are the friends and family members with whom you let off steam.  They help you reduce stress and manage the tough times.  You can vent without worrying about tarnishing your personal brand.  Best of all they amplify fun experiences.

The Personal Network helps you reduce stress and have fun.

Operational Network
Many years ago I worked with Creative Problem Solving Group to identify contributing factors to innovation.  I was working for the State of Oregon then and we surveyed employees who had submitted ideas to the Better Ideas program—ideas that were implemented and had verifiable financial impact.  These were proven innovators.  The biggest factor they shared? Organization ‘Knowing’.  These innovators had to navigate the system and pull on scarce resources for new projects.  They had to work their Operational Network.

The Operational Network helps you get the job done.

Strategic Network
The Strategic Network is all about the future—yours and your organization.  Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a manager or a CEO, you need this network to help you think bold and broad.  What grand notions are you percolating and who helps you feed the fire?

The Strategic Network helps you develop your big ideas.

Take a few moments to do a quick map of your network.  Notice where your network is not as rich as you’d like and start to improve it.  Your work will be easier and your health will be better!