September 23, 2013, 3:11 PM — I have a job, I don't need to network. Right?
For many "networking" is synonymous with "job hunting," a time in which you're most focused on meeting peers and establishing new industry connections.
However, U.S. News & World Report's Ben Weiss says networking is even more beneficial when you're not looking for work and can pay off big next time you are.
The more time you put into networking - without looking for something in return - the larger your network will be when you need something. Weiss notes the crucial point is you're meeting and staying in touch with people without expecting anything for your time or interest.
"The key here is to keep giving as much as you can once you're employed without needing to ask for anything in return," he notes. "Show genuine interest in other people's passions, continue to ask them questions they'd be excited to answer, listen intently to what they have to say and you'll have surrounded yourself with a circle of people who would not only be willing but excited to help take your career to the next level."
Weiss says the practice doesn't have to be time consuming once you've made the initial contact. Many professionals think it will demand a great deal of their time, but the writer notes that's not the case.
"This practice can be...as simple as ensuring you call your contacts by name, wishing them a happy birthday on the right day, asking about their children, sharing an article on a topic of interest or connecting them with other influencers in your network," he adds.
Cultivating your network in small, everyday ways can yield significant results, whether it's say, evaluating vendors or getting opinions on hardware or software today or down the road when you're looking for a new challenge.