You've heard about the importance of networking, but what does this really mean?
Networking not only occurs when transitioning out of the military or between jobs, but it also should be a way of life when done correctly.
The real secret to networking is building and sustaining relationships. What makes someone a powerful networker isn't the sheer number of contacts, but rather the depth and quality of the relationships with those contacts. This requires an emphasis on the “work” portion of the word “network” and a mindset to assist and add value to the lives of others without the focus being on yourself.
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Remember this: Give before you receive. This philosophy is the underpinning of all networking. Networking works best when you establish the mindset to help others first. Who would benefit from what you know or the connections you can make?
Although networking might involve mutual assistance between people, you should not be assisting others with the thought the other person then owes you a favor. Rather, have the mindset to assist others first and build a relationship. If goodwill comes back your way, then that is a positive side effect.