Alright, so I'm dedicating this post to @anonymous.mind. I loved the question you had for me the other day because of its relevance. In fact I think it prompts more than one kind of response. So I've given two perspectives - one in the post itself and one here in the captions:
Is networking a selfish or self-serving activity?
The term 'self-serving' usually has a negative connotation attached to it. In the case of networking, we're talking about furthering ourselves through people we don't necessarily know very well. But remember, you can't get where you need to go without the help of people, even strangers. Is it self-serving to ask someone for directions on the road? By definition, yes. But we do it quite naturally there because it is needed and has been the norm for a very long time. In fact, we extend the same courtesy to others when they ask us for directions. We're also used to both hearing and saying "I don't know" because very often we genuinely can't help or be helped, and that's fine.
So rather than trying to convince you that it's NOT self-serving, I'll tell you this: Within certain timeframes It IS self-serving, but that doesn't mean it is bad. You may take help from one person and then later offer help to someone else. You may return the favour to the first person later; then again, maybe not. Those familiar with networking are used to this as you are with giving and taking directions on the road. They know that there's a lot that people can do for each other through networking that goes beyond the usual circles that they're familiar with, and that openness to expansion is the true value behind it all!.