I like to think of networking in terms of farming of hunting. Sales professionals with a solid understanding of this difference in approach will be more successful in getting the desired results from networking. To network effectively you have to be much more like a farmer than a hunter.
A hunter knows what they want and they go out find it, kill it and bring it home. Not a bad tactic if you are in complete control, stronger and can force your target to do what you want it to do.
Unfortunately, that is not the case for most of us. Our clients are free to make up their own minds and free to choose who, what, where and when they want to do business. Therefore, the farming approach is typically more effective. We plant the seeds, nurture the relationship and allow the plant to grow at its own pace. However, we do mitigate our risk by over planting seeds, knowing that some plants will sprout, grow strong and reproduce while others will (through no fault of our own) fizzle and die.
So if you want to be an expert networker take a lesson from the farmer. Work it consistently, over plant, nurture and allow your plants to grow at their own pace and in their own way. Your rewards will be plentiful and chances are you will wind up with a much larger harvest than you had anticipated.