To some, "networking" means handing out as many business cards as possible. That can come off pretty sleazy and miss the point. Instead, focus on building quality relationships to grow your career. Photo by Fruitnet.com.
As networking expert and author Derek Coburn explains, choosing who to network with and how to spend your time is key. Being willing to support others in tangible ways — as opposed to waiting for them to help you — is an investment that can come back to help you later on. It's also important to focus your efforts on the people that are mutually beneficial, instead of someone who's just going to suck you dry:
Your level of success when it comes to networking and relationship-building will be directly tied to your ability to interact with others who have a similar approach. You can show up genuinely looking to contribute, but it will be a waste of time if you are engaging with those who are only focused on themselves.
In this way, networking is a lot like building your regular personal relationships. Fancy that. The quality of your relationships will be determined by which people you choose to focus on and how much effort you put into them. Ideally, as time passes, you'll build a professional network of real friends who look out for and support each other, not just a rolodex of people who trade favours.