Schmooze it or lose it, right? Well, not quite. To be sure, there are a lot of negative stereotypes surrounding networking, but it's not necessary to make a hard sell to widen your sphere of professional contacts, or even start one.

"People think that networking's a matter of sucking up to the powerful, that it takes away from getting real work done, that it's manipulation," says Philip Agre, associate professor of information studies at the University of California, Los Angeles. The first purpose of networking that pops into many people's minds is to find a job. This might be the ultimate goal for most, but career counselors note there are many other purposes outside of a direct job search--career exploration, setting up collaborations, and nurturing relationships with people you respect and share interests with.

"As a researcher you have two jobs--one is to do good research, the other is...

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