Once you have a new business idea well thought out and you’ve done all of the proper research, it’s time to walk the talk. It doesn’t matter if it’s your friends, online associates, or trade groups, you’re going to need assistance to get things going, and networking is the best way to get it on.

Networking is a perpetual process. From the first day of your new business to the last moments when you retire, networking will be as intrinsic to your success as any other facet of the company. It’s how you learn. It’s how you associate with clients, suppliers, and partners. It’s how you find employees. And, if you’re fortunate, you may even make a couple of friends along the way.

When you’re asking for constructive criticism, family and close friends are going to be your most significant networking resource. These are the people with whom you feel the coziest and most associated with. They will give you truthful opinions. And you'll get some of your best contacts from friends and family. So don't brush hem off: even your crazy aunt up in Germany or your gifted nephew in Florida might have something important to add, a friend for you to call, or an idea that will better upon your idea. So be open-minded. Talk to them and be sure they realize what you're going to do and what you need. They are your biggest fans, so get them thinking for you.

Your next step is to go online. Social networking has erupted of late. Everyone is doing it. You'll be able to find all of your grade school friends to major global executives on sites like Facebook. Even our crazy family and friends are doing it, and they’re hardly internet literate.

Social networking may seem like a idle waste of time, but it connects you to a larger number of friends and family than you could ever manage in the physical world. Additionally, you get a look at their friends, colleagues, acquaintances. It’s astonishing!

There are dozens of social networking sites out there and each one is effective for something. But the most significant element of any social networking site is that it ties in a multitude of people. Put differently, the bigger and more popular the network, the more potent and valuable a tool it is.

Check out a few of our favorite networking sites:

LinkedIn.com: This site is all business for professionals. People can commend colleagues and acquaintances--kind of like a preemptive reference.

Facebook.com: The most popular such site right now. Works on both a social and professional level. Just make sure you understand the privacy settings before putting up anything you don’t want the whole world to know about you.

Twitter.com: This is a free social messaging service that gives you the ability to broadcast your every thought to family, friends, or other subscribers. You typically send very short text messages that go to anyone who's interested.

Youtube.com: This video-posting service is free and easy to use. You simply upload a video to the site and hope it goes viral. Most of the material on YouTube is entertainment and social oriented.

Myspace.com: With nearly 116 million members, MySpace is still a force to be reckoned with in the social networking world, but Facebook’s simpler user interface and broader appealingness has overshadowed MySpace’s early fame. MySpace still attracts a younger crowd, and is pretty good for sharing all types of music.

After creating all of your social networking profiles, be sure you join all of the industry groups, organizations, or associations. Even if your business is still in its emerging stages, these groups are commonly hospitable to all who are interested. You’ll learn lots, have a chance to discover what the news is in your industry, and meet lots of people in your field. Mingling in these groups, online or in the flesh, will keep you abreast of industry news, trends, and resources as well as expanding your network.

What are you waiting for? Get out there and start meeting new people.