You likely know that professional networking – the process of building and nurturing social relationships for information and mutual support – is related to positive career outcomes. For instance, networking may increase your access to ideas as well as opportunities such as job offers, promotions or merely more interesting projects.

Despite being aware of the benefits of networking, some people do not engage in the process – perhaps because they feel too busy or that they lack the skills. However, studies led by Tiziana Casciaro at the University of Toronto suggest additional reasons: some people feel lacking in power and morally dirtied by the process of seeking out relationships that are intended to be useful for their careers.

If you shy away from networking for such reasons, you may wish to take a different approach. An international team of researchers led by Michael Schaerer at Singapore Management University observed that people who gave advice to others – who made genuinely useful recommendations about how to handle specific situations – felt more powerful and influential.

Consequently, don’t think of networking as trying to beg favours; instead, look for ways to help others and incidentally nurture relationships. Avoid giving advice to individuals when you have nothing of use to contribute, though, as the positive effect is eliminated if the advice is rejected.


Dr Rob Yeung is an organisational psychologist at leadership consulting firm Talentspace