In writing this I looked up the definition of networking in various sources and found I did not like any of them as, for me, they missed the essence of what it is.
As an employment counsellor I found that most of my clients felt that networking was going out to a business and dropping off their resume, once. At Chamber of Commerce meetings I watch people at the tables exchanging the obligatory business cards, glancing at them, then putting them in their pockets hoping they will remember the person at the next luncheon or dinner meeting.
That is not networking!
Networking is building a relationship with an individual or organization. It is not a one-night stand! To be effective you need to be in ongoing contact with your network. They might be your target employers if you are doing a job search, or your suppliers and clients/potential clients if in business.
Volunteering in your community, whether with charities or organizations such as Chambers of Commerce or Service Clubs, is networking as you are coming together for a common purpose.
It might begin with the exchange of cards, but the conversation that follows is the important ingredient in building the network. It may be that it is just an interesting conversation or it may be that the person becomes an important player in your network. Unless you take that next step, you may never know.
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