Network Without Need
Keeping connections fresh is more about giving than taking. You are giving someone attention and you are not asking for anything. It is a pleasant contact for them. If you dont do this, it is very uncomfortable when you need to reach out to people that you have not communicated with at all in five years and suddenly ask them for something.
But if you have kept the connection fresh it will be much more natural and comfortable when you need to reach outand they will be much more inclined to actually help!
A large network of weak connections is more valuable than a small network of close connections. And it is not just a matter of the numbers. The people you are close to are not always very useful to help you because they tend to be in the same environments, know the same people, and think similarly to you. Whereas your weak connections have access to different stuff, people, places and things.
If you are on a job search (a big reason people reach out to their network) or looking for new insights, your network of weak connections will have more new ideas, broader reach, and bigger impact. As an IT executive, it is easy to insulate yourself with technology. But senior IT roles are quite hazardous if you dont have a broad network of support. That broad network is what can protect you from the sniper fire, as well as help you accelerate progress and ensure success on a high visibility project.
It is worth some focused time and attention to create a habit of building and maintaining your personal network.
Patty Azzarello became the youngest general manager ever at HP at the age of 33. She ran HPs $1B OpenView software business at the age of 35, and was the CEO of an IT software company,