Networking is about knowing more people. Connecting is about knowing people more. The distinction is obvious. You know a lot of people professionally and personally, but you are connected to only a fraction of those you know.
When you are at a business, social or charitable event, you likely will run into many people you know. But with many, you will know them “socially” or “professionally”, which is a way of saying you know them, who they are, but are not deeply connected with them and have no investment in their successes or failures.
I think a good example is a small town of say 1,000 people. In a small town, you are likely to know everyone else who lives there. At the same time, you will not be connected with 999 other people. Maybe you are connected with 40-70. This is because connection requires a deeper connection than simply meeting someone. It involves time, mutual respect and participation in the relationship by both people to become more than mere acquaintances.
Another good example is LinkedIn. I have 2,184 connections on LinkedIn. But it would be more truthful to say I am networked with 2,184 people because it is not possible for me to be connected to that many people. If I went through that list, maybe I am actually connected to 50 or 75 or 100 of those people, maybe more, but nowhere near 2,184. It’s just not possible.
True connections make up your community. People in communities care about their connections’ success and have a relationship built on mutual respect and trust, which have to be earned before someone in your network becomes an actual connection.
Once you have a connection, you are interested in transfer of knowledge and information and each other’s successes (and failures). When you reach this level you add another layer to the community you are building. So network with many to find the few solid people you want strengthen the foundation of your community and help you build the type of community you want to be a part of.