There is no definite, certain answer for how to network. Every professional working in the creative industry will have their own way of meeting new contacts and potential clients. It is important for a photographer, regardless of what area they wish to specialise in, to understand that meeting new people is an essential part of the job. Your photographic work must be technically strong in itself, but you must also have the ability to sell yourself as a photographer. A lot of professionals will insist that the likely percentage of time spent actually making photographs is around 10-20%, and the remainder is divided between networking, editing and working on other things.
Networking doesn’t always have to meet face to face meetings either. It can begin in the realms of social media, with the likes of Instagram and Facebook. Although there may not be a great deal of meaning in ‘likes’ or ‘shares’ in terms of gaining work, what it does gain in exposure is invaluable. It also means that people can have easy access to your work, and to your online web presence. However, be cautious of what you upload, and remember that the work on Instagram will probably be significantly different to the work on your professional website.
In terms of meeting people in industry, there are meet up events held specifically for creatives looking to network. These can be a good way of meeting people who are likeminded, or perhaps are also looking to work in the photographic industry. However, there is probably no better way of establishing a network of people than assisting other photographers. This not only provides invaluable work experience, but also the opportunity to expand your list of contacts.