My focus has always been on building relationships. Whether I was going to school, making new friends, or interviewing for a job, I made sure to use my personality and networking skills to my advantage. At a young age I would trade notes in school and share resources, such as book reports and old math tests. This taught me the value of forming and maintaining a strong circle of contacts. A solid network will serve you well for years to come and is especially important when establishing your credentials as a future entrepreneur.
Networking is both internal and external. Internally, be visible at your current job and "hang out" within influential social circles. At first you need to volunteer for projects and make yourself available. Expand your lunch partners. Meet and talk with new coworkers and continue to communicate with them on a regular basis. Be informed; know where your company industry is heading. You may want to consider brushing-up your skills or broadening your knowledge, which leads me to external networking. An easy way to do this is by joining a professional organization within your field. Network by regularly attending the meetings, meeting new people, and benefiting from the information and knowledge presented through seminars and speakers. When I was in college I joined a group called Le Tip, that I eventually grew out of.
You should also join an online professional network such as LinkedIn. You can add your professional memberships/organizations to your profile for added visibility. Invite your contacts to join and continue expanding your network with updated information. The more you put into social networking sites like LinkedIn and potentially Facebook (if used correctly) the more opportunities you will find to show your skills.
Once you have had an opportunity to show your skills to a new network of people, make sure to impress them! Chances are, if you met someone while networking, they can refer you to more and more people in your industry. This is exactly what I have done with my career.
Initially I started printing T-shirts for my fraternity in college. I quickly learned that many notable people needed the same service. My initial goal was to prove myself by producing apparel and merchandise for friends and then expand into corporate licensing and merchandise. I knew if I stayed focused I could meet some really cool people and provide value to their lives. As the years went on I continued to pursue merchandising and product development, which ultimately led to many celebrity clients and the inception of my Company Flex Watches. Now a decade later I can look back and confidently say, "IT'S ALL ABOUT WHO YOU KNOW AND WORKING HARD!" I have been fortunate enough to partner and befriend many athletes and celebrities which gave me the opportunity to move to LA and pursue my dreams. It is never too late to start building your network and improve your career.