Why is networking important?
Networking (business networking) is the development of mutually beneficial long-term relationships. The idea is to have good relationships with many people so that they help you in times of need. Networking is not about collecting contacts. If you go to conferences, do small talk with strangers, and exchange business cards, you are only collecting contacts. These contacts won’t be helpful. They won’t help you in times of need because they don’t know you. You need long-term relationships with people for them to do you favors.
Networking is important because having the help of other people makes life’s battles less difficult. When you have a good network, you don’t go into battles alone; you take your whole network with you. This is orders of magnitude better than fighting alone. No matter how much hard you work or talented you are, you can’t compensate for not having a network. People who work less or are less talented than you will do better in business and life because they have a network. This is because the world runs on relationships.
Some people are born into a network like a wealthy business family or monarchy. The rest of us have to build it over a lifetime. Networking is difficult for most people because they do it from a standpoint. When you try to build relationships with people because they will be helpful in the future, you are networking from a selfish standpoint. This won’t work. People will sense your selfishness from your inauthentic behavior. They will instinctively not trust you, killing any possibility of a relationship. To build relationships, you have to be selfless. You have to be a “giver” rather than a “taker”. When you meet people with this mindset, they will instinctively trust you. They will entertain the possibility of a relationship. To pull this off you need to be a naturally selfless person. You cannot fake it. So networking is not a skill but a derivative of selflessness. To be good at networking, you shouldn’t be trying to “network”. You just have to meet people and be a good person.