What is 'Networking'

Networking is a process that fosters the exchange of information and ideas among individuals or groups that share a common interest. It may be for social or business purposes. Professionals connect their business network through a series of symbolic ties and contacts. Business connections may form due to an individual's education, employer, industry or colleagues. For instance, a business network of Harvard Business School alumni may develop. Networking may also refer to the setting up and operation of a physical computer network. 

BREAKING DOWN 'Networking'

Networking helps to develop professional relationships that may boost an individual’s future business and employment prospects. Networking events, such as industry conferences and seminars, are a common practice within professional organizations, which may also link up with other groups to stage a joint event or conference.

Business Networking

Strategies for expanding a business network include developing relationships with people and companies as well as exchanging contact information. Connections within a network usually maintain regular contact with each other to build rapport and gain trust. Instead of having many contacts, a small selective network may provide more benefit, even though it often takes longer to establish. Successful networking involves regularly engaging and following up with contacts in the network to provide and receive valuable information that is not readily available outside the network. For example, a business network consisting of accounting professionals may provide information to their connections about an upcoming employment opportunity.

Online Networking

Business networking has increased in popularity due to social networking websites. Networking platforms such as LinkedIn provide an online meeting place for business professionals to engage with other professionals, join groups, post blogs, share content and create online profiles with the objective of connecting with other people that have similar interests. LinkedIn allows users to search for companies, people and jobs. LinkedIn members can reach out to potential employees and connect them with human resources managers or recruiters. Likewise, a business-to-business customer pipeline could develop through the use of a social networking site. Online networking through forums allows professionals to demonstrate their knowledge and connect with like-minded people.

Computer Networking

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 to and from computer networks through security software and programs.

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