How to get started networking?
Identify what you are looking: your first job, a career change, building your business -- what is the gap you are looking to fill with a network?
Make strategic connections. Identify what types of people could help you achieve this: what do they do, what age or experience level are they, where do they spend their evenings and weekends?
Develop your personal brand: What do you want people to learn about you, and how are you going to communicate that? You should identify a few points about your experience, education and extracurricular ambitions that you think are interesting and of value for others to know, and dress appropriately for the occasion and industry that you're in or striving to be in.
Get involved: join events, clubs, sports, volunteer work, that brings you closer to those people -- it's so much easier, and much more rewarding and fun, to bond and build relationships over a shared activity. You actually form a more organic connection.
Build on those connections: follow up with new connections with a thank you or follow up email, and invite them to other functions that might be of interest to them -- add value and show you listened.
Networking Tips for Success
Try new things and meet new people all the time: at the very least you'll fill your resume with new skills and accomplishments
Set goals (collect 10 business cards at a 2 hour event, if you are shy, take small steps to break out of your pattern – ask one question at every event, make one point at every meeting, get one new business card at a function, after that feels good, take on more.)
Find role models, mentors, and champions in addition to peers
Be self-aware (do your homework, know your audience and know yourself)
Be a great listener and engaging conversationalist (nothing worse than when you ask someone what's going on and they say "more of the same". Offer up what you're working on, what are your challenges and highlights, never know if you might be able to help each other; that's what networking is all about!)
Build your credibility (always follow through and follow up when you commit to something)
Find something interesting in each person you meet, and don't be afraid to move on to meet more people once you've made a good connection.
Use social media wisely (post only what you'd be comfortable if it was on the front page of the newspaper. You never know.)
Make it easy to know your name (wear your name tag on the right hand lapel at functions and even volunteer your name when seeing people you don't know very well, to take the pressure off remembering)