You may have heard the old adage: "It's all about who you know." This statement pre-dates the Internet, sometimes explaining why the boss's cousin was hired or why the CEO's golf partner was promoted to vice president. It holds a lot of truth, though, as statistics show people rate their connections, both professional and personal, as the most effective means of finding jobs [source: Ott, Blacksmith and Royal].
Whether you're changing jobs, moving in a new career direction, or just trying to move up the ladder, your social network can play a big role. Your social network is the web of connections you have with the people you know, the people they know and so on. Social network data has been used for everything from analyzing retail sales to tracking terrorist activities [source: The Economist].
Social networking is the effort you make to create and maintain relationships within that social network. You can do this face-to-face at conferences or at the gym, or you can connect with others online through Web sites like LinkedIn and Facebook. Social networking uses your professional and personal connections to move your resume to the top of the stack or to move you ahead in your career.
This article describes five ways -- listed in no particular order -- that social networking can help your career, whether it's based on who you know or who you're connected to online.