Some people mistakenly describe the act of collecting contacts as networking. While collecting contacts has merit, doing so without building relationships to support them significantly limits their value. Networking is (or should be) about building authentic, mutually beneficial relationships.
Networks can and do dramatically accelerate the pace of doing business. People in our networks can provide us with access to information, attractive deal flow, and can facilitate warm introductions to valuable professional contacts that simply wouldn't occur otherwise.
For instance, a few weeks ago, a longtime friend and business colleague of mine called to ask if I knew of a company having a particular technical capability. He had a large customer with a need for a product that required this. I replied that I knew precisely the right person with whom he needed to speak and promptly connected them. They are now working together to satisfy the customer's request, which represents a big order. Others have extended similar courtesies to me. Frankly, I love these kinds of interactions. They can make business happen...Just...Like...That. Ask yourself: whom in my network would I contact if I needed a favor? My guess is that each of us would recite a fairly short list. My list (and I have over 2,300 Linkedin contacts) would be perhaps 100 or so. Strong relationships require time, energy and attention. They aren't built overnight.
Want to build a solid professional network? Consistently demonstrate your value to the persons you would like to have in it. Earn their trust. Offer and provide help when needed, even if (and especially if) they can't offer you anything in return. In other words, be a friend...whether or not you choose to extend your professional relationship to a personal one.
Networks can be extremely valuable. However, their value is ultimately defined by the relationships that support them. I invite you to consider this and then ask yourself, how strong is my professional network...really?
"Connecting You With The Right Solutions" BFS Innovations, Inc.