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Networking can be looked broadly from two different angles. Networking for professional purpose and networking for social purpose. These are often overlapping. Social networking can be further divided into three, namely, where you live, your relatives and your personal space like friends

One   should have different strategies for each set of people (group) but following shall apply in all situations;
1. Desire to do genuine networking in the true sense of the word is a prerequisite. If a person’s heart is not into it and wants to do it only on a transaction-to-transaction basis, then that is not networking.
2. Ready to invest time and put in effort. It requires a lot of time and energy. One needs to travel, some times long distances. Sometimes its late nights. Some times one needs to organise small or big events and it requires spending money too. No doubt there are methods of doing networking where you need not spend large amounts of money.
3. Effective time management. Everyone has limited time available. Therefore, it becomes important to know with whom should one spend time and how much time. When one is abroad or when one has less time available mode and method of communication for networking may need to be changed.
4. Consistency. This can’t be a “one time” hobby. It is a passion and the resilience to practice.  If one consistently works on networking that can help improve the skills.5. Smartness in use of present day electronic communication devices. A friend of mine picks up the best of the articles from Time, Economist, Fortune, Forbes, Economic Times, Harvard Business Review, McKinsey Quarterly and such magazines and sources, does some editing and  e-mails to his contacts, of course those who can understand and appreciate this kind of stuff, along with web link or full text article. This reinforces the contacts. Everyone appreciates getting useful information.Another friend does the same thing, of course excellent stuff, through his tweets. From a youngster I learnt interesting thing : he sends Good Evening or Good Day SMS rather than Good Morning or Good Night messages which everyone else sends. The smarter lot also doesn’t make the mistake of sending e-mails addressed to Dear All with 70-80 visible e mail IDs -messages on New Year or Diwali which are becoming pain as most of these emails get circulated by many un-thoughtful persons by just pressing the button “Reply All”.The real smart ones instead send personal messages on birthdays and marriage anniversaries through e-mails or greeting cards rather than through Facebook posts. This is not to say that Facebook account should not be used. But one should know who is being addressed and which mode shall be more relevant. For a more important or close contact greeting card could be relevant. For the next level personalised e-mail may serve the purpose whereas for general category youngster Facebook account message may be good enough. A close friend diagnosed with cancer and having a short span of life sent me a friend request on Facebook yesterday. In his last days he is reaching out to a large number of his friends whose phone calls he cannot take due to health reasons. He is also using this medium very effectively to be of help to the victims of Uttarakhand disaster in June 2013.

Suggested Steps for effective networking:1. Decide the purpose and objective in clear terms. This can, of course, be updated, based on experience and new insights gained. 2. Make a master data base of persons you want to network with, for example in case of relatives, who shall be included or excluded shall depend on the social context. If you happen to live in a joint family, your different circles of relatives shall be comparatively large. No wonder one should play on the strength of it. It shall also depend on your needs and likings. It is always good to specifically exclude people who are time wasters, painful company and depressing people or those who always crib, cry and complain. One may also decide how far to go; previous or next, one or two generations, vertically or first level or second level cousins of self or spouse, horizontally.  This database shall help to have all your contact information at one place. It shall also help in making short, medium and long term strategies based on experience gained over a period of time.3. Strategise depending on one’s goals and objectives.  A final year student graduating from University may be more interested in job prospecting than in relatives. So he or she becomes purpose focused rather than group focused. A person well settled in a job and in family may be more interested in friends and relatives. Strategies may be different for short, medium and long term. Strategies do change over a period of time.

Networking has come a long way as a topic of interest and is developing as an artful practice.