Social networking is a modern day, more formal term for partying. It is a phrase that has come about by virtue of the internet, and refers to community type groups that have largely formed on the web, but can also be done in person.
Social networking is used for many purposes. It holds great allure for strictly social reasons, by people who would like, for whatever reason, to broaden their social circle. It is used by those who would like to date, and it is used by those whose businesses have significant social components to them and who are in need of new networks or markets to tap into.
For those who want to network for purely social reasons, there are several options for joining a social network. They abound on the internet and can be found easily through a search engine. There are groups that form based on special interests, there are sites for film lovers, or food lovers. There are traveling groups. Museum lovers groups, science and bird watchers. There are groups for parents with children and groups for adults without children. For as many sub interests as you can think of, there is more than likely a social network.
For those looking for a mate, there are also formal services that fall into the category of social networking. Agencies like Eharmony and Match.com, which specialize in finding an compatible match are very popular.
There is a nascent but growing business component to the current social networks that exist. Social networks were originally promoted through the internet but they have since become a live based event as well. These are social networks designed for those who like to combine socializing and business. The aim, for all three parties, those who hold the events, and for both parties who attend, is to explore new, potentially lucrative new associations among related businesses or between businesses which may want to relate.
As with all networking it is advisable to proceed with a healthy amount of caution. Until you know who you are dealing with, be it a new business associate or a new date, make sure you protect your interests, be they financial, or emotional.