What is 'Networking'
Networking is a process that fosters the exchange of information and ideas among individuals or groups that share common interests. Networking may fall into one of two categories: social or business. Less commonly in finance, the term "networking" may also refer to the setting up and operation of a physical computer network.
BREAKING DOWN 'Networking'
Physically, a network forms interconnecting lines through passages, lines or cables. One line may intersect with another, and then the second line goes in a different direction to connect to more lines, and so on and so forth to form a netlike structure. Metaphorically, someone's network remains connected through a series of symbolic ties. Business connections may form due to someone's education, employer, industry or common colleagues.
In terms of business networking, one of the implicit objectives is to form professional relationships that may boost one's future business and employment prospects. Networking events, such as conferences and meetings, are common practice within professional organizations, which may also link up with other bodies to stage a joint event.
Strategies for expanding someone's network include developing relationships with people and companies as opposed to just swapping contact information. People and companies within a network usually maintain regular contact with each other to gain each other's trust. Instead of going for a volume of contacts, quality may be preferred even though it takes more time and effort. The key to networking lies in engaging with someone in a network. Without meaningful, relevant contact, the purpose of in-person and online networking fails.
Business networking has received a tremendous boost in participation thanks to the burgeoning popularity of business networking websites. LinkedIn provides an online meeting place for business professionals to engage with other professionals, join groups, post blogs and create online profiles with the goal of catching the attention of others with similar interests. LinkedIn allows users to search for companies, departments and employees of various firms. People within a LinkedIn network can put potential employees in touch with human resources managers or recruiters. Likewise, a business-to-business customer pipeline could develop in this way.
Computer networking involves connecting computers in the same building or office so users can readily communicate with other computers or devices. Switches connect multiple devices in one building on the same network. Computers, for instance, can connect to printers, fax machines, scanners and servers through a switch. Routers tie multiple networks together, such as when a computer connects to an Internet router to access the Web. Routers control the information going to and from computer networks through security software and programs.