Early on in my blogging, I wrote a piece on "Resilience". Actually I copied something my wife wrote. That's important, because her expertise is mental health, while mine is mostly IT management, and lately I've learned a lot about job search. At any rate, I mention this because of how much networking supports resilience and resilience supports networking. If you go back to that article, you find a key component is building and maintaining relationships, and that pretty much is networking. With that intro:
• Definition: Targeted (around career) making of friends.
• When: Throughout our careers. While we are working may be more important than when looking. That's when the foundation is laid.
• Where: Pretty much everywhere. Sometimes it's about handing out a business card, sometimes not, it is pretty much always about getting names and following up
---- Note that the purpose of a business card is at least as much about getting theirs as it is giving ours. It allows us to initiate the follow up. -----
• Who: People connected with our profession and the businesses that might employ people like us.
In simple terms, we network pretty much everywhere and all the time. It's not about becoming somehow different, but about being ourselves. The hard part is emotional, not skill or technique, it requires that we start things and we follow up. Someone compared it to being a high school boy asking for a 1st date and it's apt. The risk though is pretty much all in our heads and somehow, we still need to drive through. We need to remember that as hard as it was for the boy who did ask, he had a date that weekend, the boy who didn't ask, didn't.