Many people work wildly, seeking to grow their networks. Besides the largest sites of LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, you can find many more that are dedicated to the subject, whether they are a smaller social networking site, a blog devoted to the topic, or simple product website that "helps" you network. The great news is that networking, in terms of collecting large groups of folks that you can reach, has never been easier. The bad news is that collecting names and business cards never was effective networking, and the online equivalent won't work, either. Building effective networks is truly the name of the game, regardless of the size of the network.

Creating an effective network challenges individuals to build relationships with individuals who make a difference in the quality of their personal, social, or business life. For a career, an effective network has more specific meaning, and the meaning changes based on the context of career development.

So what are you trying to do?

* Grow your client base,
* Expand a certain product line,
* Develop stronger human resource access to strengthen your business' core strengths, or
* Looking for a job or expect to be looking for a position sometime in the future.

Each of these objectives should significantly impact who you attempt to add to your network.

If you are seeking to expand your client base, you need to develop context to reach prospective buyers or networks of non-competitive resources who may be buyers in the future. You could focus on trade association, local business organizations like Chambers of Commerce or the Rotary, or strengthen your personal relationships with individuals you already know who are postured to help develop this area.

For a product line, maybe you need to meet and develop relationships with circles of creative individuals focused on or related to that area. Your goal may not be quite as specific as a sale, but effective network development requires focused attention on the topic.

Maybe you own a company and need more management bench strength. In addition to adding some specialized recruiters to your network, you could become involved at a nearby university's business program to gain access to more rising stars. Maybe you direct your conversation to find out who others perceive are the stars and seek introductions. Your goals are not immediate, but you must seriously develop habits supporting your objective.

The last, finding a job or laying the groundwork for a future job search, is perhaps both the easiest and the most difficult. Your goal is accessing the hiring manager, the human resource staff that supports the manager, or the trusted executive recruiter that fills their needs. The objective is simpler because you know relatively precisely who you are seeking, but precision creates its own hurdles.

As you can see, network is not a random act. You need to understand your goals. Develop strategies to support those goals. Place action plans or tactics in motion that makes strategy into reality for your own clearly defined networking objectives.

Author's Bio: 

Peggy McKee has over 15 years of experience in sales, management, and recruiting. She is the CEO of PHC Consulting, a nationally-known medical sales recruiting firm. See her website and blog for more on medical sales at

She offers powerful tools and tips for resumes, LinkedIn, 30/60/90-day plans, brag books, and more that will help you succeed in your job search at