You never know when you might make a connection with another person. You could be of vital assistance to them (and part of networking is helping others, not just hoping they can help you!), or they could impact your future. This is why you should always discover something about those whom you encounter. One never knows when the stars will line up.
I always look for something in common with people I meet. Sure, you can't have a connection with everyone, but when you do find a link, it makes the conversation more exciting.
I recently met someone whose brother was a former student of my father-in-law (my f-i-l was a high school teacher at a private school in California for 35 years). My f-i-l was thrilled to reconnect with this former student, but he was curious how I had connected the dots. I laughed, as this is what I do, I ask questions of people and look for common ground. One never knows what you will discover when you go looking for commonalities.
Even at the Superbowl I was networking. The guy sitting next to me was a huge Giants fan, and since we were both routing for the underdog, we had a connection. From we were able to strike up a very interesting conversation. Bill is a die-hard fan who was raised in New Jersey, whose wife encouraged him to take advantage of a last minute chance to see his team play in Phoenix. Even though money was tight and she would be home alone with their new baby girl, she wanted him to have this once in a lifetime experience. I learned a lot about this guy just by asking questions. It was fun to talk to him, but I did not know if there would any way I could ever help him or vice versa.
This guy was impressive, ambitious and interesting. It turns out he is trying to launch a new career in an industry where one of my friends is an expert and national thought leader. Naturally I offered to introduce him to my friend as he would benefit from knowing this person. Wammo....an important part of networking .....finding a way to be a resource for others even if there is nothing in it for you.
It turns out that my camera was broken at the Superbowl, and because I had established a dialog with Bill during the game, he was willing to take a few photos for me and will be emailing them to me this weekend (he already sent me an email letting me know the photos are on their way when he has the time to download them off his camera). Had I not spoken to him I would not have any photos other than some off my phone.
Will knowing that someone's brother was taught French by my father-in-law (an re-connecting them) or that a guy I met at a game is ambitiously pursuing new opportunities make any difference in my life? Maybe, maybe not...but by being able to connect the dots sets up a chance to build a relationship that could be mutually beneficial is what networking is all about. One day it could be one of these people who drop an opportunity in my lap that changes my world. If not, I loose nothing, but the possibilities are limitless.
Have A Great Day.