Money is visible credit. Credit is invisible money.
This is powerful stuff, it might make you rich.
If you have a five-dollar bill, then you KNOW for a fact that someone, somewhere, "owes" you a product or service worth five dollars. For example, if you walk into a convenience store and pull out a five-dollar bill, the person behind the counter will immediately go: "Can I help you?" (Meaning: "Can I suggest a product in our store worth five dollars, so your five-dollar bill can be in MY hand?")
Credit is a bit more subtle. It's when you help someone and so they "owe" you. How much they owe you is harder to evaluate or quantify. But they definitely owe you something.
They owe you something because THAT is the way they feel about it, even though you feel they owe you nothing. In other words, when you give people advice, you do so generously and you don't expect anything in return. That is the correct spirit of networking. However, even though you don't expect anything in return, the person you helped will inevitably feel that he/she should reciprocate in the near future.
Also, when you help people by using your knowledge or expertise, it can actually be quite enjoyable. You can do so quite easily and have a very good time (for example, during the course of a social conversation at a party or reception). Of course, if you drink one drink too many, your knowledge might be of dubious quality!
In other words, the more you share your valuable knowledge (hopefully, it's the kind of knowledge that requires education or experience), the more "invisible money" you get.
This means that the more you network, the more (invisible) money you print!!
This assumes, of course, that you network mostly with people who are likely to benefit from your knowledge, expertise, wisdom. Then again, if your knowledge is specialized, it's a good bet that anyone you meet will be better off after a conversation with you.
For example, I know a significant bit about knowledge management, business and marketing. I'm pretty sure that most people I meet would / might appreciate my insights on these matters.
Unfortunately, we too often only focus on visible money (which most people earn by doing things, NOT sharing knowledge). We don't focus on the invisible money (that is, the credit that we build by helping others through knowledge-sharing).
For people who only focus on visible money, going to work every day and getting a paycheck every two weeks is good enough.
For people who understand the value of invisible money, it's necessary to go out there and network in order to "print" more and more invisible money. That is, they meet new people and try to be useful to them. They know for a fact that other people will reciprocate and try to be useful or helpful to them in turn.
This is why people who make the effort of reaching out to others, will always have a richer and more fulfilling life than people who just stay at home watching TV.
Sure, people are free to choose the lifestyle they want. But one has a profitable consequence for you and helps others to gain knowledge while the other does not.