Imagine having a network of people that:
1. you really do care about,
2. who care about you as well,
3. and you’re relevant to each other professionally, as a potential client or referral source.
Networking involves developing and maintaining connections with individuals, then mutually benefiting from this developed relationship. In relation to career development, a well-developed network provides you with a support system of individuals who can provide meaningful assistance to you as it may relate to your career/industry exploration, connections to other individuals and learning about potential job openings and business.
Networking should be approached as an ongoing process that takes time and nurturing, and not something you do just when you are looking for a job or business. It is important to remember that networking is a two-way process in which you provide beneficial support to those in your network as well.
Networking is a buzzword for building sincere relationships based on mutual generosity. When you meet anyone whom you think will in some way, be a valuable person to know down the road, don’t settle for small talk. Try to instead approach meeting them as an opportunity to find a way to care for them and help them with something. Look for opportunities to provide value to those in your network before you ask for help.
The more you invest in your relationships, the more you'll learn about your new connections and the easier it will be to offer assistance — and get it in return! The surest way to solidify a new connection is to be of value to someone.