Time after time, I am running into serious offenders of one of the cardinal rules of networking: you have to give before you can receive. Recently, I was contacting by one ex-colleague I had not talked to in over 5 years. Out of the blue, this person contacts me via Linked In to ask me if I could help him identify career opportunties. One of my former bosses only contacts me when he is in a job transition and needs me as a reference. These are examples of what networking is not. I am a true believer that networking requires giving a lot without expecting anything in return.
A network is a living ecosystem that needs fuel.
As a matter of fact, I conjecture that you should never expect anything back. Mindful networking implies being opened to other people in your network and simply give through random acts of kindness. That includes giving Linked In recommendations, serving as a reference for a job search, making connection to people of interest to help someone, helping someone in a job search, having phone chats when someone has an idea, etc. Of course, you have to find a balance as you cannot cut yourself in a thousand pieces. I have written 115 recommendations on LinkedIn and each one took about two to three minutes to write. That is not a huge commitment but each one of these makes a difference in the life of the person receiving it.
A network is a living ecosystem that needs fuel. That fuel is love and kindness. One cannot use the network only when one needs something. If you pour enough love and kindness into it, then may be your network will love you back. The act of giving has to be genuine and non-interested. I have read some great books on how to network. They all say the same thing: maintain and energize your network on an on-going basis; invest in it as time may come when you might need some help. I say you have to go one step further. Spread love and kindness randomly without counting and without expecting anything in return.
I love my network and I am available to help. How much love are you giving to yours? Disrupt!