You can't put a price on networking skills or the connections one may obtain through solid networking. The only reason I'm able to write these blogs is due to networking (and the generosity from Francesco Rulli & the Film Annex Team of corse). Not all networking has to be done in a business setting. Just the other day (on the plane ride to visit my sister in California) I met a fabulous and talented tennis player Jackie Visinski. Jackie is trying to (and probably will) qualify for the U.S. Open for tennis. We've remained friends and hopefully will continue to keep in touch. The point I'm getting at is that even a friendly conversation with a stranger can open up doors that would otherwise be shut.
I don't want to come off as one who uses and abuses relationships for personal benefit. What I meant buy having doors opened is simply the expansion of one's network, and access to a demographic that was not previously there. However, if I can get some professional tennis lessons and spread the good word about judo out of the deal, where's the harm?! We should always be on the look out for connections that both parties can mutually benefit from.
Another example is my recent connection with the "Brunette Bombers vs. Blonde Bombshells" female flag football league. This organization helps raise both funds and awareness on Alzheimer's disease. I offered to host a "B. v B." barbeque event at the JMJC dojo. This event will showcase music (hopefully from my band Hard Soul), judo demonstrations, good food, bouncy castles for kids, and a bunch more. At the conclusion (if all goes according to plan) the B v B foundation will have raised funds and awareness, judo will have been exposed to people that didn't know about it, my band will have gained exposure, and people will have a blast and will forever associate our organizations with FUN.
Again, I want to re-iterate that there is always a time and a place for everything. Knowing WHEN to network or when it is considered "tasteless" to network can be just as important as knowing HOW to network. Lastly I also want to re-iterate that when I speak of networking, I don't condone a "what can I get out of this" selfish type attitude. What I want to describe is more of a "how can we help each other" type attitude because no matter how strong we are individually, we're always stronger together.