Don't Avoid the Unemployed!
Is it worthwhile to network with people who are also looking for new employment?
Most people think they should only talk with other people who are presently employed in a specific capacity within a specific industry within a specific company who might have a specific job for them. This is job search futility and fatality.
When an exec is between jobs, it's the perfect time to get to know him/her. That person will land soon and will remember you when s/he does.
In fact, it's more effective to network with people who are also looking for new employment. When these people are between jobs, they are accessible; once they land a new gig, you might never get to speak with them. It's too late. S/he's off and running on a new career venture and much too busy to be bothered.
Alternatively, if you connect with him beforehand, you better believe he'll speak with you. His Rolodex® will be wide open. Moreover, if you can point him to one good contact in your network, he will never forget you. When he's running his next company, he will pay your favor forward.
Additionally, once an executive has left, he is more likely to give you contacts from his last company as he does not have the same confidentiality concern. Also, don't forget to look at other companies he has worked for and ask for contacts there as well. Furthermore, because he has been searching and talking to other execs and recruiters, he is more likely to be aware of recent opportunities that might be better for you than for him.