Networking is the process of identifying and developing relationships with others for the purpose of establishing ongoing communication, cooperation, and/or mutual assistance. Successful networking typically occurs in three stages: identifying the relevant relationships, developing those relationships, and utilizing the relationships to enhance the effectiveness of specific endeavors. Working effectively with communities generally involves working together with a large number of other organizations or individuals. Networking serves to build relationships with others who may have information, expertise, access, or resources required for the successful implementation of community and economic development strategies.

More than a quarter-century of involvement with a wide variety of community-based organizations, political leaders, and involved citizens has resulted in an extensive network of relationships that contribute to the effectiveness of the CCED and similar groups. Many students new to CCED bring with them their own existing networks, which can be utilized to further the mission of the CCED.