The social networking that occurs in the novel can be compared to a web. Each endpoint will have someone who will benefit something or someone else in the story. In the case of Anne, the endpoints of her web of friends that will ultimately lead her back to Wentworth were Mrs. Smith (whom her father disliked because of her lack of social status and because Mr. Smith was his friend), and Harville.
The difference is, however, that family acquaintances are separate from personal acquaintances. This means that you can have whichever friend you wanted while the family cannot be chosen, and neither can family friends. Friends outside the family then were a welcome change to the life of Anne.
One thing, however, class and social status still would dictate hat the friends that are chosen outside of family acquaintance be in tandem with one's own social class. This is what formed the clash between Mr. Elliot and Anne over Mrs. Smith. However, family is the primary foundation in the story, while friends act like strong supporting elements.