I'm still learning, but I think the most important thing to stress about this is that networking isn't about just knowing everyone and handing out your business card to anyone that you think might get you a gig. It's absolutely about creating meaningful relationships with people that can be mutually beneficial but I think should go beyond professional needs. Don't be afraid to really get know someone.
One of the greatest things about your network is having other people to reach out to when you need some guidance. I was fortunate to have some really incredible teachers that really took me under their wing outside of horn lessons to help me get started when I was worrying about the future and how to go about everything. Not only did they constantly offer me advice and guidance, but they were able to lead me directly to others that were able to offer me guidance as well.
And I think it's worth pointing out that most people are extremely willing to take time to offer guidance to those starting out. Everyone started somewhere and knows what it's like. It feels good to help someone in need of guidance and most people are absolutely willing to take the time to help.
There is a great book on networking called Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi that I think should be required reading for every music student. We can't all make it alone, and at some point we will absolutely need the help of someone else . Ferrazzi does a fantastic job of laying it all out when it comes to networking. It helped me out and if you're not sure where to start with this whole networking business this book may be a good fit for you.
Thanks for reading, and as always comments and feedback are always welcome!