Ford Harding, consultant and expert on Professional Services Marketing, posts on his blog:
I often see in networking groups that my friend Vincent Wright manages that unknown people volunteer to help with nary a thought about getting 'returns'. Such people understand the actual meaning of networking.
The characteristics of a good, though not-deep relationship include mutual respect as people and as professionals and commitment to help each other, if in limited ways. They do not need to include shared interests beyond the narrow field in which the two people network together.
At this level the born-again Christian and the atheist give to each other and get back. The sports nut and the ballet buff work to make each others’ lives better. People whose countrymen are at each others’ throats look out for each others’ welfare.
This is not a utopian vision. It exists in many heavily networked markets. It is not a formula for world peace, but can make our lives more interesting and rewarding.
Remember one more thing about these less than profound relationships: Anyone who has been out of work or had a personal crisis learns that it is not always the people you expected to who help you the most. Sometimes the deep relationships are not as deep as we had thought and some of the shallow ones aren’t so shallow.