Why is it important to network?
It is obvious that in this tough economy most of your job leads will come from friends or physically present people not from ads or online applications solely. Yes ads and online applications may land you a job but your odds are much better when you meet with people or have actually met the person recruiting. It is not only about landing a job, networking can also be used for other purposes. Networking can open the door for you to publish your book or to get your dream home. Whomever it is you are looking for they can be reached within six degrees of separation. So you may not know a literary agent but from your pool of friends and contacts all you need to do is look to your friends' friends and so on. Most people are introduced to their future spouse; only a small percentage of the population will get married to someone by introducing themselves to a stranger. Therefore it is important to keep a good network not only for business purposes.
It is not necessary to have a huge amount of friends on your social network but quality and good relationships are important. For marketing purposes it may be to your advantage to have thousands of friends on fb or twitter. I view networking in a different way, to me it is not enough to have great contacts but what really matters is if you know how to use them to your advantage. I view it as a game of chess. Sometimes just one single piece may be necesssary to guard against disaster and eliminating that piece can lead to ruin.
When you have something to offer that gives you more bargaining power and makes you stand out to others in the network. This is where you have to flex a little bit of muscle. This is when your skills must be shown to persuade your contact to help you. It is important to note that the people at the top of our network are aware of it. For that reason they may need a bit more courting to get them to cooperate. Networking will work out best if you see it as a two way stream where you offer help to others and in return they will help you.