Does anyone out there actually get benefit from "networking" activities? Perhaps it's because I work in IT/Engineering. But I'm wondering if this is much ado about nothing.
About two months ago, I sat in on my umpteenth workshop on "growing your network" in my long-ish career. My professional network is lousy; it consists mainly of former colleagues who are trying to hire whenever I'm trying to hire and looking for work whenever I'm looking for work. I've always thought I've suffered professionally from my poor network. However, after many years, I'm wondering if I should spend my efforts elsewhere.
My question is - has anyone out there used networking to be more successful in IT? I'm being serious. After every networking workshop I collect a todo list that I dutifully work through - send short emails to old colleagues, try to set up lunches with useful work colleagues, etc., all this "networking stuff." All little effect: the emails and lunch invites go unanswered, the business cards from the networking events get shoved in a drawer, and I give up after a few months.
The thing is, if this is what everyone is supposed to be doing, how come I've never been at the receiving end of this attention, in spite of being fairly senior? Unless I'm thoroughly detestable and don't know it, odds are that if other people are actually taking this career advice, I would have at least some old colleagues ringing me up in a similar manner. Yet I can count on one hand the number of times in the past fifteen years that a contact contacted me in such a manner, other than the occasional desperate "I'm out of a job, do you know anyone who's hiring" email.
Is networking an overrated waste of time, at least in my field? Or is there something essential I'm overlooking?