"Women tend to fall into the 'best friend syndrome.' We invest deeply in our friendships and conflate casual relationships with shallow ones. But your acquaintances play a crucial role in your career. Someone you see only twice a year may know about opportunities you haven't heard about."
2. Cast a wider net.
Networking within your profession won't take you very far. "You're aiming for reach—friends, classmates, neighbors. Plant a lot of seeds."
Don't make it all about you.
People approach career opportunities the way they do social ones: Nobody wants to hang out with, let alone help, someone who is overtly self-serving. "At the end of the day, what we're talking about is being sociable."
4. Remember the quid pro quo.
Networking can't be one-sided—both parties need to get something out of it. Ask yourself: What can I offer that makes the relationship worth the effort? Pay it forward by brokering introductions or proffering useful business insight. "The best kinds of connections are mutually beneficial."
5. It's not only about your job search.
Networking isn't just about finding a job. It's also about making you better at the one you have. "The more time you spend gathering diverse information [from people in different industries and professions], the more valuable you are as an employee."
Pursue your personal interests.
It's easier to break the ice with strangers when you're actually interested in a social event's subject matter. "It's not 'I'm here to network.' It's 'I'm here to learn about X, Y, Z.'"
Lock it up by following through.
Be sure to send a quick follow-up e-mail the day after meeting someone. "Follow-through is what turns a contact into a connection."