One of the biggest intellectual hang-ups in networking for any purpose (job, admission into a college, finding investors, etc.) is to put the relationship and the other person in front of your need for something. Aren’t we using people? Would I be looking to build this relationship if I didn’t need something? The best networkers understand that relationships have their own value and are underpinned by genuine kindness. This article from a former Dartmouth admissions director is a great case in point. In the race for the top, competitors focus on their qualifications. But top qualifications are becoming only a baseline. The true differentiator is character.