Check your local newspapers or search online to find networking meetings near you. And make the most out of any work conferences you are sent to. Set some aims in advance of what you want to get out of each event and have some business cards printed ready to hand out to any interesting contacts you meet. Keep a note of who you are going to follow up with later and why, because there's no point building a network of contacts that you then forget.
Starting to network online is even easier. And the sooner you start the better: according to some estimates, up to 85% of recruiters visit the online profiles of interesting applicants before choosing to offer them a job or an interview. If you can’t be found online (when all your rival candidates can), it could seriously dent your chances. It might suggest to the employer – rightly or wrongly – that you are not interested in connecting with your professional peers, are reluctant to embrace technology, or even have something to hide.
A quick Internet search will provide you with no shortage of suggestions for recommended social networking sites for professionals. It takes minutes to set up a free basic profile on most of them.