Don’t stop networking. Just start networking right:
Relationships, not transactions.
The key for networking events is to make solid connections with individuals so they will remember who you are when you do follow up with them. You want them to be interested to meet with you for coffee or lunch. If you go to networking events with the intention of just trying to sell to people, they won’t want to meet with you later because they know you’re going to pitch to them.
Invest in some social capital.
If you want people to be eager to meet with you after networking events, the key is to find ways to help them. Think back to the people in my audience. Think about all the relationships that had the possibility of forming and how many of them most likely didn’t. If everyone focused on learning who they could help, as opposed to who they could sell to, imagine the relationships that might have been. Good networking is all about investing in some social capital before asking for a withdrawal.
Be interested, not interesting.
It’s not all about you. Do you want to make a connection (especially if you are networking up to someone more successful than you)? If so, be interested in what they are doing. Don’t pitch them the moment you meet them. But wait, it never hurts to ask, right? Wrong! Contrary to popular belief, it is does hurt to ask for business before there’s any kind of relationship.
Quality over quantity.
The only thing more important than the size of your network is the quality of your network. It’s a people puzzle, not a numbers game. It’s about finding out about the people you’re meeting with. It’s not about collecting as many cards as you can. If your network is a mile wide and an inch deep, you’ll never have a powerful personal network at your disposal.
Become engaged in the groups you belong to.
If you really want to stand out in a network, volunteer and become a leader in it. It is amazing how much exposure you can receive when you are helping to run a group that you are active in. However, remember two things. First, just being a leader doesn’t mean you’ll get business. At some point, when you have developed a relationship, you do have to let people know that you’d like to do business with them. Second, whatever you do, don’t step down from a leadership role and then immediately quit the group. That really makes it look like you were there for only one reason (and the wrong one at that). Being a leader in a group is about giving back. The secondary benefit is that you can build great credibility.
I’ve built a global company with offices in more than 60 countries and I’ve done almost all of it by building relationships, networking, and getting referrals. My advice to you is, don’t stop networking. Just start networking right.
Don't 'Stop Networking.' Just Start Doing It Right. (Entrepreneur.com)