3.2 What does networking look like in practice?
A network is basically a group of interconnected people with a common interest. The network is the result of making these connections – otherwise known as networking. However network relationships also have a number of other characteristics which distinguish them from those found in organisations, communities or friendship groups.
The connections in a network tend to be fairly informal, without contractual ties. At the same time though, a network relationship develops on the basis of ongoing reciprocal obligations, so it tends to be more formal than a friendship. What turns something from a social event with friends into a networking activity is the common purpose – you have a reason beyond just liking the people you are interacting with.
According to Himmelman (1996), a researcher in different forms of collaboration, the main purpose of a network is to facilitate exchanges of information between members for mutual benefit. To that we might add the exchange of personal resources such as skills, knowledge and contacts for mutual benefit.