Both networking and social networking (as opposed to anti-social networking 🙂 ) can include almost anything we do or say to someone who might at some point be able to help us in our career — or who might know someone who leads us to someone who has a brother who knows a person who has heard of an opening for a job we might want.
⇒ EXTRA: Why Networking Matters So Darn Much
Social networking is more traditionally about connected communities — connected in backgrounds or interests of some sort. Whereas basic networking is any effort you make to build your professional support connections. The end goal of each being a “network” of people you can turn to — and who also can turn to you when needed.
This includes connecting to online communities or professional networks, as well as to people we find through existing connections. And even to people we might find through stories we read in the newspaper or online articles and business websites. But also in the line at the supermarket. (I’ve actually done that.) Expanding your social network can happen pretty much anywhere!
When undertaking job or career change, social networking is one of our best allies. This also includes informational interviews with people who may offer more information about a career field we’re considering — as well as offering suggestions and / or more people to contact.
One of your strongest networking tools is simply listening sincerely to the other person. And not just being all about yourself. Networking goes both ways. When you help and are there for each other over time, you both strengthen the connection. And that can really pay off in the long run. I’ve gotten most of my jobs that way!
If you want to suggest changes to this or any other definition in our career dictionary, feel free to add your suggestions in a comment.
[Article updated in 2020]