I love how straight up you are about this
Ok, since I consider this a skill I've learned, I'll share a few things I did to learn networking and get better at it (I am not shy, but I never really thought I'd be into it).
- find some blogs written by people in your field/industry and become part of the conversation. Post relevant comments, respond to other comments, ask good questions. It takes time, but you will then become part of this blog's community and can meet people who might be good for your network. What you can do is send an email to a person whose comment you liked or found relevant and ask them if they would have a short bit of time to talk to you about their (job/career/expertise/insert here whatever the purpose of this part of your networking is.) Also, don't hesitate to email the blog author directly and ask for feedback on something/a question about developing your career/writing/whatever fits your life at that time.
The key here is to do this on an ongoing basis and establish these relationships slowly. Another important aspect of networking is giving something back to your contacts. So say you had an email exchange with someone - send them an email later on with a link to a site they might find interesting, or a book, blog, video, article, etc.
Using Work It, Mom![/i] - there is a big community growing here and depending on your networking needs (looking for a job? want to learn about different careers? you name it) there is a lot you can do. 1. Check out some mom's profiles and read about their careers - leave them a post on their profile or send a message with a question you might have. 2. Comment on articles written by other members and/or send them a private message saying you liked the article and here is a follow-on question. 3. Post questions/thoughts/topics on forums or in Q&A and connect with professional moms that way (you are already doing this - but follow up. After a good exchange with someone, send them a message through Work It, Mom! with a follow up question, comment, or resource for them.)
- find one event in your area that is relevant for your professional career. Sign up and go. Before you go, try to find at least one person who is also going and "virtually" meet them beforehand - this will make the event easier. At the event, take a deep breath and make a goal for yourself to meet 2 new people. A great place to do this is around the food/drinks area, if there is one. You can start by talking about silly things like the food and then introduce yourself and take the conversation from there. Follow up after the event with people you met - I just did an article on this, check it out. http://www.workitmom.com/article-265
Is this helpful? Do others have other tips? It's a great topic.