If you network to get things you need, no wonder you hate it.
You have to think of networking the other way around. Build a network to help other people, not so they can help you. You got into this career because you wanted to do good, right? Networking is a tiny, immediate gratification way of doing good. Send an email to connect two people who might be able to help each other. Tweet about a colleague’s new article.
This only works if you know good people doing interesting stuff. So, go find some good people who are doing interesting stuff. If you go to a conference, seek the people who seem genuinely fascinating. The better you know them, the more ways you can support the things they’re doing.
But wait. When, exactly, does my network help me out, you say.
When you connect with people in a sincere, interested way, they become part of your story. When you invest yourself in people, they naturally invest back. Everyone wants to be part of a happy ending.
But you can’t do that by connecting to everyone. Not everyone is doing something that has meaning for you. Not everybody is a person you want in your story. Plus, you don’t have time to honestly develop an interest in everybody doing everything.
When you try to fake an interest in everything, or when you think only of how others can benefit you, that’s when networking gets icky. If you go into it as an extension of a generous approach to life – that’s when it gets fun.