Not necessarilly. One of the Project Management Institute's blogs has an interesting article written by Jim De Piante titled Unselfish Networking. It also aligns pretty well with Mitch Joel of Twist Image, whose book I am currently enjoying reading.
Basically with the ongoing online revolution, networking is more important than ever before and we all have our own personal brand to promote (and protect). One of the core tenets of social media, or any other kind really, of networking has become that it definitely must not be self-serving, at least explicitly.
Consider blogs or websites that you routinely visit (
The quality of the content is also important. Unless it was an entertainment driven site, I'd take it as a given that you expect the content to be either factual or clearly stated if subjective (disclosure - this is just my opinion). Equally important when enaging in social media or other networking agree Mitch Joel and Jim De Piante are to not try and sell.
By offering expertise or valued opinions and dialogue to your community, you are automatically raising the profile of your brand. A perfect example here is the Hard Rock Miner's Handbook. This was a not for profit publication provided by engineering consultant McIntosh Engineering (now Stantec) and was available as a hardcopy, followed by a CD and online versions. It has been a great success and certainly drives the firm's search rankings high. Indeed the original collator / editor / contributor even has a derived dictionary of mining terms on the mining industry online portal site Infomine here. Now the info within is quite generic, but it is certainly helpful at times and perhaps more importantly, it is a standard download for industry students, establishing the resource, the brand and the altruistic sentiment from their early exposure to the industry.
A similar models applies to volunteering or running local branches or chapters of associations or running an online group or forum. The exposure and boost to your reputation can be significant and you are actually just giving back to your peers, but you are positioning yourself as a pro-active leader.