2. Join a nonvirtual networking group. I'm a member of the Transition Network, a nonprofit networking group for women over 50. It's based in New York but has a chapter in Washington, D.C., where I live.
Colleges have networking groups, too. For instance, my alma mater, Duke University, has Women's Forums in New York; Washington, D.C.; Los Angeles; San Francisco; Chicago; Dallas; Houston; Atlanta; Charlotte, N.C.; Seattle; Denver; and even London.
Networking peer groups are active in churches, synagogues and community centers. You might also consider joining a peer group associated with your profession.
If you hear of a local event that sounds intriguing, push yourself to make room in your schedule. I try to go to two a month.
Real networking isn't about finding someone to help you get a job today. It's about making contacts over time. At each network event, I try to meet three new people and get their contact information. Afterward, I jot down notes on the backs of their business cards about where we met and what we discussed. I follow up via email in the next day or so and try to make plans to meet in the near future to continue our conversation.
3. Help others connect. Virtual introductions are easy and a win for everyone. Pride yourself on being a good matchmaker? Then when someone says, "I'm looking for someone who can do this," craft an email introducing the two parties and let them take it from there. It's a nice thing to do, and it feels good.