Building a real professional network is a valuable way to get ahead and you can do it without being sleazy. One key way to do that: don't just "network up" to people above you.
Photo by Eugene Kim.
As business blog Entrepreneur points out, many people only try to network with other professional who are above them in the industry. People with more money, higher positions, or better resources. While that's all well and good, neglecting people who are at your level (or lower!) can be a missed opportunity. After all, not everyone will be below your level forever:
It's not uncommon to think that the only way to advance is to buoy yourself to people with higher titles or more perceived power. While it's fine to connect with people who are further along in their careers, don't forget that there's also value in meeting people in every direction of where you are in your career trajectory: down, laterally and up.
Thinking of people as being "below" you isn't really a great way to build relationships anyway, but it's especially important to remember that collaborating with people at every level of your industry can be good. Maybe you can call on someone later to work with you on a project. Maybe in the future someone you thought wasn't very useful to your career will go on to a much higher position. By treating people at every level like respectable contacts, rather than just trying to reach up, you can broaden the opportunities available to yourself as well.
9 Networking Blunders That Undermine Your Reputation [Entrepreneur]