Networking is the process of interacting with others to exchange information and develop professional or social contacts. Networking is about nurturing long term mutually beneficial relationships, it is not sucking up to people to try to curry favor from them but it is for establishing beneficial relationships. Networking does not just happen during office Christmas parties or functions but if you spend less time on your phone you would realize that there are networking opportunities every where.
It is understandable that sometimes our personality types differ and some people are more shy than others but experts have agreed that the most connected people are often the most successful. Nobody succeeds in isolation, investing in relationships both professional and personal can give you returns throughout your career. Networking helps you stay on top of current trends in your field or industry, helps you develop your soft skills, meet prospective mentors, partners, sponsors and also clients.
Networking is not just for out of office events and seminars, networking in your workplace is equally important, interacting with your co workers can be instrumental to your career development. There is no "one size fits all" when it comes to networking style , so it is important to know which one works for you. If you are introverted you may prefer one on one meeting over lunch or attend private events with less number of people in attendance, extroverts seem to have the ability to fit in anywhere, there is no perfect way.
Volunteering is an incredible way to develop your networking skills, it affords you the opportunity to learn from different people from all works of life. It is never too early or too late to invest in your network, give it a try, put yourself out there.