It's hard to actually put a specific value on networking, and I've been skeptical of it in the past. However as I've learned a bit more from Andy Warren's investigations into the process, and I've thought about my career, I think it works. I'm not sure I've gotten a lot of financial value out of it, but I think that I have gotten some things.
Let me give you an example. I hear about jobs all the time, and surprisingly, many of them are not because I run SQLServerCentral. Quite a few come from recruiters who are trying to get me to take a new job so they can get paid. No problem in that, but I have the best job in the world, so I typically don't respond. However I do see jobs in places where I have friends, and I've forwarded them on. I know at least a couple of people have gotten work from those postings, and I've at least gotten some goodwill.
This November, at the PASS Summit, Don Gabor is putting on a networking session, actually a few of them, to teach people about networking. I'll be attending the Networking to Build Business Contacts to see if I can learn anything. It's $60, and if I learn something that gets me one hour of work, one tech editing contract, it will have been worth it.
Most of us are geeks, not naturally outgoing, or even if we are, not necessarily driven to use that to further our careers. This didn't seem like a great idea when I first heard of it, but I've become more convinced as I've talked to Andy about it, and I realize this is the type of non-technical skill, a communication skill, that many of us sorely need.
Space is limited, but if you want to build your career in more ways than just technically, I'd urge you to think about it. And please stop me and say "hi" at anytime during the PASS conference if you attend.