Networking is about "working a network." Networking is by far the reason how most people find work. Yet, because it requires a lot of commitment and effort, job seekers tend to push it aside until they feel they have no choice but to try it.
What Is a Network?
Wikipedia defines a "social network" as "a social structure made of nodes which are generally individuals or organizations. It indicates the ways in which they are connected through various familiarities ranging from casual acquaintances to close familial bonds."
In simple terms, a network consists of people with whom we have a "connection."
How to Work a Network?
Working a network consists of two things: (1) expanding the network and (2) strengthening the network.
(1) Expanding a Network
A network is important because it allows us to "expand our reach." Accordingly, the bigger the network, the better since it means that we have "the potential" of obtaining more access to things, including information.
We all start with a small, yet intricate, network: our family. From there, our network expands to include our friends, co-workers, and acquaintances. Each person in our network has their own network, which makes the whole theory so powerful, yet vulnerable at the same time, as the strength of the network weakens as it expands.
(2) Strengthening a Network
A network is only good as its strength. A good network will help you access information not available to other job seekers and obtain referrals from key people. That's the most effective way to access the "hidden job market."
How to build a strong network?
By being genuine.
By anticipating, meaning that you should not wait until you're out of a job to start...
By being an active member of the network, meaning that you should try to help other members of your network also (give and take).
By maintaining your network, meaning that you should keep in touch.