We often hear that you boost your chances of professional success by increasing your network of contacts.
This is true, but only partially.
The goal is to be connected to as many of the right people as possible.
So you do want a lot of people who know you, or know of you, sufficiently to say,
"This person is indeed a credible expert in their field."
You grow this social network through participating in live and online communities oriented toward the subject matter that you wish to gain professional recognition in. In this respect, the quantity of people who are aware of, and respect, your work is indicative of the quality of your expertise.
Your professional network is somewhat superficial and very focused on work. It is important. But even more important is the inner ring. These are the people who know you, love you, and genuinely like you (love and like are not the same thing), and who support you regardless of what professional goals you have.
In short, your inner circle consists of your family and friends (by birth or by choice). They don't care about your career insofar as it affects your happiness. If you are happy, so are they.
When it comes to friends like these, the goal is not quantity but quality. The caring they feel for you is mirrored by yours toward them. And you help each other through the challenges of life, applauding for the victories and crying together at the challenges and failures. Helping to pick one another up and keep going.
Unfortunately there are times when toxic dynamics develop in our relationship circles, either inner (personal) or outer (professional). Like odorless, colorless carbon monoxide, the poisonous intentions of others toward us creates a negative energy that gets in our way. We criticize ourselves, develop incorrect self-perceptions, feel self-conscious, and even shoot ourselves in the foot. All because of the relationships we thought we needed, that actually aren't good for us at all.
It is not true that your social network has to be infinite. It only has to be infinitely healthy for you.
When a social interaction turns toxic, recognize that you are being harmed and have the courage to walk away. Your real family, friends and colleagues will stand by you. Whoever falls off was not worth your time in the first place.
"Never allow someone to be your priority, while allowing yourself to be their option."
Happy holidays to everyone. Have a good day, and good luck!