The facts of networking and the value of connectionsWhen you receive networking invites, do you respond? You do not necessarily need to accept every invite, but evaluate the invites to see how they may build and expand your network. Eventually if your goal is to build your network, which it should be; you must accept invitations.An effective network requires contacts, connections, friends, followers, or whatever; regardless of what the nomenclature is: you must build your network. There is no such thing as too large a network; it is just that as your network grows you may need to categorize your contacts to ensure that you are allocating your time appropriately. If you are familiar with the Pareto Rule, also known as the 80/20 Rule; it is an appropriate theory to apply to your network. If you are unfamiliar; in short this rule states that 80% of your opportunities come from 20% of your contacts. To be effective in applying this rule you must know your network.The value of your network is in your connections and that is something you cannot forget.Do not let your invitations just sit and languish!One part of networking that never ceases to amaze me is the comment that I have heard countless times – about having a “bunch of invites” and not knowing what to do with them. I think that is shameful. There is no excuse for not responding. If you know the person and you have no “good” reason for not accepting the invite; accept it.Additionally, sending a note of appreciation is in order and adds value from your side of the relationship. I am guessing that these same people, that let invites languish, will expect their network to work for them when they are in need. My response would be to tell them to go fly a kite.Not accepting or even responding to a networking invite is an insult; additionally it could be a deterrent to the person extending additional invites and their networking future. Networking is a stretch for some people and when their attempts appear to be rebuffed; they can become discouraged in their networking.When you ignore invites you are not taking care of your network and you obviously do not appreciate your network. You never know which connection will be “the” connection that leads to your next opportunity.Your network is a priceless assetAs you give value to your network; the value of your network increases. Your network is potentially one of your most valuable career and business assets. Regardless of your reason for networking; your network can hold the keys to your success. Your network potentially will lead you to new and exciting opportunities for career and business growth; if you treat it properly.The connections in your network are of value not only to you, but to your connections and their connections. Just as your second and third level connections offer you the best opportunities; your connections are the second and third level connections for those connected to you. I cannot emphasize enough that one of the primary values you can offer to others is growing your network. As Malcolm Gladwell says in “The Tipping Point” being a connector provides value to your network.Sharing information or participating in and starting discussions is another key way to provide value to your network. It is surprising how many people feel that they compromise their opportunities when they give away valuable information. In fact, instead of compromising their value they are establishing themselves as an expert in their field and demonstrating what they have to offer.I have been in situations where people that were attempting to establish themselves as the expert actually gave out disinformation or misleading information because they believed that giving valuable or correct information cut into their potential billings. If you want to be an expert networker and demonstrate value to your network; you must give to receive.You can be an awesome expert but if you do not have a network or you are too afraid to share; no one will know just how great you are. You must be constantly working to build your network and extend your value.To learn more about growing your network read my other articles and check out my website below.