I think it’s true that we often view networking as a bottom-up proposition and not the other way around. That is, us younger people often ask our older, more experienced colleagues for their advice, their help, and their contacts, but those older colleagues (at least in my mind) would never come to us kids for any kind of assistance. A week and a half ago, I discovered this to be most decidedly not the case.
I had coffee with a colleague who is twenty years my senior. I met this colleague a few years ago when I was working with the National Council for International Visitors. At that time, he had been working for a large and well-known international exchange and development organization in DC for nearly 15 years. Though our paths crossed several times—at NCIV conferences, at joint advocacy meetings on the Hill during we which we argued gamely, and unsuccessfully, for more funds to be devoted to international exchange—when I left NCIV for Georgetown a year and a half ago, we weren’t exactly close.