Social networks on a personal and business level are important for developing society and developing oneself. Social networks offer employment opportunities that would not otherwise been available. It also offers an opportunity to create a support network of like-minded individuals that share similar interests and traits. For those not familiar with social networking a little advice can go a long way.
Social networks as much a part of business and society as eating and breathing. The difference is that we are often not aware of the different types of social networks that include family, business, friends, etc... We live connected with each other without even having to try. The ideas of networking as an activity means to think strategically about your networks.
If you are a business professional you are more likely to be interested in professional connections. Those connections are likely to be different than your parenting, sports, recreational, charity and hobby connections. It will require you to consider finding places to meet such people and engage them on a professional level.
Finding places to meet other people is one part of the issue while having something to say to them is another. Common places to meet people are through conferences, industry associations, friends of friends, workshops, speeches, open houses, online forums, blogs, etc... Search around, talk to colleagues, and attend those events.
The quality of the event is going to make a difference in how successful it will be. Conferences and conventions are filled with lots of people but are not always the best place to meet other people. Such events attract a large amount of people looking for the same thing. Smaller and more intimate groups and meetings are better than larger groups when first starting out.
Once you find the meetings and get the courage to attend you must also have something to say. Practice a quick elevator speech that will get you over the introduction. If you have a few sentences to say without effort eventually your fear will subside and you will be able to have an instant introduction anytime you need it. Above all else be casual and avoid appearing pushy.
Net working helps you find the right people that can give you a step up in your career. It is important to understand that most jobs and opportunities are found through social networks. This becomes even more important as you move up the ranks and jobs are closely held. Character and connection become defining issues in successful job placement. Get out there, meet people with similar interests, and see what happens.