In these challenging times, everyone needs a friend. Now the question is - is it a live in-person friend or an electronic connection? We live in a world where connections or networking is the buzzword of the day. How many times have you been told "You will find your next job through your network" or have been measured by how many connections you have on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter? So how are you building your network? Are you attending dozens of meetings on a weekly basis? Linking up, tweeting, texting?

Being social via the computer can be very isolating and consume many hours of your time - but just how effective is it in your career search? This is just one of the many tools to use in developing your network. The combination of getting out to events -- in the community that you live in, work in, and volunteer in, allows you to form relationships based on common interests and mutual respect. This may provide for a more meaningful and lasting relationship upon which self-esteem and confidence are built.

Find meetings where speakers are presenting on a topic that interests you. Go to the library and do some research with your reference librarian - they can open your eyes to resources that you may not have seen before. Become a continuous learner - the more you learn, the more well rounded you become in your ability to engage the world around you. Volunteering allows you to develop new relationships based on personal values and citizenship. It also allows you to become a partner in enterprises larger than yourself.

Meet people face to face. Understand other people's stories and then share your own. There are many opportunities to make new contacts, but how do you define your friends? The quality of one's relationships is critical. While it is possible to find thousands of connections via social networking sites, good friends are another story. Friends are relationships that are cultivated, nurtured and developed over time.

While it helps to cast a broad net as this may expose you to a wealth of opportunities, your deeper relationships are most likely to help you land your next job. Friends are the people who have a personal stake in your success and are a source of your personal well-being and happiness.

This column will provide guidance for your career success and offer practical and thought provoking strategies. I invite you to send me your comments and questions that I may weave into future columns. All information will be keep confidential. Please note that not every tip/technique works for everyone. Your career strategy is based on what appeals to you and what works for you and the marketplace.