Networking is a powerful tool. Relationships with others can expose you to opportunities that you might not otherwise have available to you. I read a blog post recently that was talking about how to use LinkedIn and the benefits it can provide. I didn't find it particularly ground-breaking, but what I found in the comments section really got me to thinking. Well actually, it got my blood boiling.
The very first commenter went on some tirade about how useless LinkedIn is, how he's unemployed and it didn't do anything for him, and how his friends all feel the same way which ultimately led all of them to deleting their accounts. While I could go into the details of his comment and dissect the multitude of reasons why him and his friends remain unemployed, I'm going to take the higher road and simply discuss the root of the problem.
The Networking Novice
People new to networking view it as a necessary tool to get what they need. They need to make sales; they start trying to make connections with customers. They need a job; they start sending connection requests to people at companies they're pursuing. What they fail to realize is that there is a person on the receiving end. Why would they want to help you when your pursuit is so transparent? Would you risk your reputation for someone you didn't know or trust? It's going to be an even tougher sell if you're unemployed.
Network When You Don't Need To
Networking is about building relationships. Showing people that you care about their needs and that you want to help them. Build a rapport with people when you don't need anything from them and they'll be happy to help you when you do need it.
I'm going to keep this short because I think it's a pretty simple concept. Networking is like building friendships, it needs to go both ways. If this spawns any questions, please leave them below in the comments section and I would be happy to expand the discussion.