Networking. Does the word alone make you cringe? It certainly has a reputation as the most cynical, self-serving process in this town - but it doesn't have to be that way. Here's why.
When someone says "networking" we generally think they mean professionally. While this is usually true, a professional network isn't the only kind. Online, places like Facebook are a social network. Family is another type of network. Like a professional network, all these groups expand and contract.
When "networking" the goal is to expand a network. However, it's not explicit what network to expand and this is where networking loses its negative reputation.
Instead of networking professionally, network socially. Don't go out to an industry event to make business contacts - go out to make new friends. Everyone in attendance has at least one thing in common: a passion for the industry. Start there and see where the relationship goes. Maybe they'll be a new friend. Or maybe someday a co-worker. It's even possible they could be a future spouse. The only way to find out is to network.