Here are two core concepts and strategies that should guide your approach to networking with other humans, regardless of your career or personal goals.
1) The time to build a network is before you need it. Don’t start networking because you need something from the world now.
2) The most effective way to build a network is by ALWAYS looking to add value: Connect two people who will mutually benefit. Recommend a business you love. Volunteer. Help someone get a job without the thought of payback. Mentor someone. Walk into a party or networking meeting thinking “how can I be helpful?”, and not “how can these people benefit me?”
Successful relationships are not transactional. Play the long game. Build relationships like you’re running a marathon, not a sprint.