Keep this in mind: when building relationships, you want to make sure you add value to that relationship. People will remember that about you and will look out for you when something crosses their path that reminds them of you. He or she will add value to your life and relationship the two of you are building.
One thing I've learned is everyone needs help or knows someone who needs help in some area of his or her life. We do not get to where we are by ourselves. Someone has helped us so it is imperative to pay it forward.
If you have selfish tendencies - get rid of them. Selfishness will get you nowhere in life. It may work for a short period of time but people will recognize your ways. People in your network will talk about it and you will probably lose help from others.
Focus on relationship building and you will build your network. I've made the mistake of networking to get something out of others with very little to offer in the early stage of my career. I was looking for a job fresh out of school with zero technical experience. Someone told me to network. So I did. I networked. I met new people who were in positions that I wanted to be in and people who could have clearly hired me. But I had nothing to offer – so I thought. The only experience I had was education and my years of working at McDonald’s. Most companies wanted new hires to have at least two to three years of experience. So someone I met asked me what I have to offer. All I could offer (so I thought) was my five years of McDonald's experience. Not thinking about the Customer Service side of the business. All I was thinking about was fast food and flipping burgers.
Working at McDonald's taught me the skill of Customer Service. That skill alone can launch your career and carry through. Learning how to be a people person and honing in on the needs of others to provide complete satisfaction is an art. Service with a smile will get you those relationship building skills everyone needs. Nobody wants to befriend someone who is always frowning. Smile, it changes how you feel and others too. Besides, it's your face that everyone is looking at. Practice your smile in the mirror until you find one you like.
To this day I still use the skills I developed at McDonald's. I use it in my cover letters when applying for opportunities and I use it in my everyday life.
Here is a sample of a portion of my cover letter using McDonald's:
I will provide your client base with the care in customer service and technical guidance through my years of experience in understanding the needs of every client. In each position I’ve held, I set the standard for customer satisfaction and training clients and employees by using skills that I began to develop in my teenage years of working at McDonald’s Restaurant where customer satisfaction and service was a key element. There I learned the importance of excellence in customer care and relationship building. Since then, I have made customer service and relationship building a driving factor in my technology career. Throughout my years in Information Technology I have gained the ability to strengthen my service skills by keeping current with the ever-changing technology and sharpening interpersonal abilities through verbal and written communications. By doing so, I have established strong relationships and gained the respect of individuals across every organization I have worked for from C-Level Executives down the organizational chain.
That was just an example of how you will have to tap into past experiences and use them throughout your career. No experience is a wasted experience. You just have to remember them and know when to use them.