Many people think networking is great. They love the idea of building long-term and mutually beneficial relationships, and expect to see themselves and the people in their circle discover unparalleled future success.
The problem is that some people are givers, and others are way too self-focused to ever help you win. Both types of people show up at networking events and have interesting conversations. They are nearly impossible to tell apart, and over time many believe that they have build mutually beneficial connections with people who want to see them succeed. When they have a need they are thrilled for your help, and you are excited to help. In these moments networking seems powerful.
That is until you seek their assistance. When you finally make the "ask" of others, this is where the wheels can come off the bus. Too many that you believed were in your corner will ignore your call or make excuses of being "too busy". It is interesting how long time "friends" disappear when you could use a hand up.
This causes frustration, and many people come to believe that networking does not work.
But it does work. You just have to set your expectations about the people you meet in a realistic manner. While you cannot always distinguish the ones who will move mountains for you from those who do not care, you should not punish those who are good networking partners because of those that are not.
When you reach out for assistance be honest that the other person may not be committed to the "mutual" part of networking. While they love that you are thinking of ways to help them, they see their own goals as the only ones that matter. "Busy" is a badge of honor to those with a one-sided view of networking, and you cannot change them. Move on.
However, when you do see those who agree to help, cherish them. Honor them. Let them know they are in the 1% of people who make a difference.
It is not that networking does not work, it is that all people are not really givers. When you find a giver, tell them you recognize they are special. And then BE THERE FOR THEM, too. And if you cannot find a way to serve them... be sure to pay-it-forward!
Have A Great Day