Many people turn to networking in times of need such as when looking for a job, a reference for a job, a person who may be able to help you with a particular problem you are facing and so forth but they wait until the need is there instead of working on building their network consistently all along. It is important to invest time and effort into building and nurturing your network and relationships long before you find yourself desperately looking around for the answers and help that you need. By spending time cultivating relationships simply for the sake of having and enjoying them rather than for what they can do for you in the short term, you will more than likely find that you will find that you have a diverse, rich network. These people also have their own network of people and soon you could find that someone who knows someone else may be just the very person who can land you that job interview, point you to someone who can fix your air conditioner for next to nothing or help you get started in social networking with your new business and much more.
If you have not spent time developing relationships in your network it may be quite uncomfortable when you try talking to someone you have drifted from and the first thing you bring up is asking them if they can either be a reference for your job application or know of any job openings. In fact in some cases it may go beyond being uncomfortable to the point of being rude and that relationship may completely dissolve (if it hadn't already.) It would be like someone calling you out of the clear blue sky and you just know that they are going to try to "pitch you" on their latest home-based business opportunity and really don't care to find out about you, how you are doing, or anything other than to try to "sign you up."
I have seen this happen in social networking sites a lot. It happens when someone posts about their business on your personal Facebook wall which is a huge turn-off by the way! or when they only comment on your post when it has something to do with their business they want you in, or also trying to act like they are interested in you and you can just almost feel that at any moment they are going to type out a link to check out and "just let me know what you liked about this." Has it happened to you? Annoying isn't it?! Now I am pausing to think how often I may have done that without intentionally trying to "pitch" someone and how that must have felt.
If you have been spending time working on building and cultivating your network, not for what you can get out of it but for what you can give as well, when the time comes and you either need someone for something or vice versa, you will find that you will have quite a group of people who may be more than willing to help you out or point you in the right direction. It just goes back to the very, very basic principle of treating others how you would like to be treated.