A good networker will never ask, “How can others help me?” Instead he will ask, “How can I help others?”
The basic thinking behind this is clear and simple: the more ready you are to help others, the more ready they will be to help you in return.
Generosity builds trust and mutual understanding. It cements and deepens our relationships with others, and in time we will reap double or even triple what we have sown.
We shouldn’t see each relationship as a short-term investment and expect to have every favor returned instantly. For relationships are not a finite entity, like a cake that gets smaller and smaller with every slice someone takes. Relationships are more like muscles: they grow and strengthen the more you use them.
People who are neither generous nor helpful, who simply wish to rid themselves of their business cards and only ever think of how to work things to their own advantage, are doomed to go through life powerless. Their behavior pushes others away, and sooner or later they will find themselves alone. For who really wants to work with someone that selfish?
In order to move beyond a self-centered view, and to truly strengthen and deepen your relationships with the people in your network, you need to show constant loyalty to them. Loyalty can take many forms; for example, by offering emotional support when someone is going through a rough divorce, or by donating your time to help someone with problems that lie outside of their professional life. A half hour of your time here and there could potentially pay you back in a life-long relationship.