Everyone has heard the cliche, “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” Although cliche, it is a cold hard fact. More positions are filled, from the local check-out girl at the supermarket, to cabinet positions appointed by the president. So if who you know is so important, then you realize how important networking is. Net working is the act of getting to know more and more people who are may be in a position to hire you, or know someone who is.
An important aspect of networking is to target the right group of people. If your forte is sales, then networking with the computer programmers in town probably won’t get you very far (although, it could). On the other hand, if you plan to be a computer programmer, you probably won’t find many networking leads at the golf course (although, you might).
At this point, it’s important to mention that you should really network everywhere you go, with every one you meet. You never know who will be the one who can help you the most. It sometimes occurs at the most unexpected places. One of my college buddies found his first job from a fellow he met while at his self-storage unit. An older man a couple of spaces down was having trouble getting something from the back of his unit, so my friend helped him out. They went to lunch afterwards, and the lunch turned into a job interview. He was eventually hired, and has become good friends with the man who hired him.
Another friend of mine, a mechanical engineering major, rarely studied. He spent much of his time at the golf course. We thought he was just goofing off. As it turns out, he was networking with the rich folks who frequent the golf course. He had already lined up a management position with a company whose CEO he met at the club, and had become golfing partners with. My friend’s ability to network so effectively put him far ahead of the other college students who were studying, fretting about finals, and pulling all-nighters, much less worrying about getting a job after college.
At any rate, your networking efforts should be directed at the places and people who are most likely able to help you. A future manager might fare well networking at a golf course. A computer programmer may fare better connecting with a local programmers’ meetup.