More is certainly not always better when it comes to networking. Check out Stephanie Berenbaum’s “Is Networking Working Against You?” for a simple lesson in etiquette. Although networking properly will not necessarily guarantee you a job, these networking blunders will almost undoubtedly hurt your chances of getting an offer. The ultimate goal of connecting with individuals and developing a circle of professional associations is to build and maintain relationships with people who can offer advice about how to pursue a specific career, present information about hiring, lifestyle/culture, and challenges within a specific industry or company, or point you in the direction of an opportunity.
Remember to be positive, well-mannered, professional, and articulate and to not immediately ask new contacts for a job. Networking does not mean applying for a job, but it can definitely lead to one! It is important to do it right. Maintaining relationships that hinge upon trust and professionalism rather than aggressive perseverance and pushiness is crucial. When it comes down to it, you can have a laundry list of accolades and a 4.0 to top it off, but employers will only hire those whom they find easiest and most enjoyable to be around.
Want an easy rule of thumb to judge the strength of your network? It's not who you know that matters, it's the people who are willing to call you back -- and speak on your behalf!