The word "networking" is undoubtedly overused. Every interaction — face-to-face or virtual — is considered networking; every online community is a network; every meeting is a networking event.
But think of networking as more than a cliché or all-purpose panacea. The very heart of networking is relationship building, and the investment you make in developing a profound connection with someone will pay dividends, regardless of whether you are on the giving or receiving end. Networking is more than a transaction; it is a lasting bond with a natural ebb and flow. Some of these relationships move to the forefront during certain periods while others retreat to the background, but there is always a sense of reliance, dependability and trust at the foundation.
It is my belief that the best relationships cannot be sustained in a simply one-dimensional communication medium, and I have found my association to others deepens when there is dialogue beyond our initial connection point. A LinkedIn invite augmented by a personal email; a Twitter posting followed by a direct message; an in-person meeting fortified by email; or reacquainting with someone from the past with a phone call all seem to solidify my attachment to my "network.