Networking is a strange thing…I wish we could give it different names when we do it for different reasons. I will contact Websters Dictionary and ask them to work on that. Until that happens, consider the different ways in which you network.
The overall definition is as simple as having casual conversations with people you know to share or retrieve information. We do this all the time.
You are walking through a store and you run into someone you know and you talk with them. You each exchange information. You like someones jacket and you ask them where they got it. You read a good book and you talk about it. Your neighbor is out of work and you talk about it.
You attend a conference or meeting and talk about the latest trends, you talk with coworkers about current issues, you help a customer, you ask a vendor for advice on a new product or service, etc.
We don't think twice about having any of these conversations. They just happen. We don't worry about what to say. In most cases we don't plan what we are going to say. We are polite and say please and thank you. We don't feel guilty that someone has offered information or help because these conversations(networking encounters) are based on existing relationships, we know what to do.
Networking for New Business
If you have ever been in sales or own a business, you had to prospect for new business and clients and customers. All businesses do it. You make sure that your name is recognized so you talk about it in meetings, in stores where you shop, etc. Many businesses focus on good customer service because they know customers will talk about their positive experience.
Job Seeker Networking
Networking while looking for a job is a totally different animal, yet really shouldn't be. Remember the definition "having casual conversations with people you know to share or retrieve information". You are asking for advice or information-not a job.
If you are still reading this post…thanks for your perserverance. I've run out of steam and can't get my point across.