…but what you can do for your network. Some people believe that if they create a LinkedIn or Plaxo account and add 500 people to it they have a network. Contacts aren’t necessarily connections. A connection is someone who knows you well enough to make an introduction (and ideally give a recommendation) for you.
Let’s say you met John at a network event three years ago. You both exchanged business cards, maybe you connected to each other on LinkedIn the next day, but there was no other follow up after the event and now three years have passed. You’re recently laid off in a very competitive job market (like the one we’re in right now) and you see the perfect job posted on a job board. You see through LinkedIn that John works for that company. What are the chances that he can or will help you if you give him a call? Will he even remember you?
Now what if when you met John at that event three years ago you asked him how you could support him and he mentioned that he was looking for a printer. You happen to know one of the best printers in his area and made an introduction. You followed up a few months later to see if he was happy with the results and let him know to reach out if you could help him again in any way. Chances are now when you call John about the job posting at his company, he’s going to help get your resume to the right person.
Your network is only as valuable to you as you have been to your network.