The best selling Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey lists the seven habits that will help you become more effective if you work on them. The 7 habits (be proactive, begin with the end in mind, put first things first, think "win/win", seek first to understand and then to be understood, synergise, sharpen the saw) are a great place to start with any personal development.
As you might expect they also offer some great insights into how you can be effective at business networking.
* Habit 1: Be Proactive:
You need commitment and the right attitude. Take the lead in conversations, make connections, and share your expertise.
* Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind:
Work out what you want from your networking. If you are not absolutely clear about this you will be unable to respond when others offer you help.
* Habit 3: Put First Things First:
Set yourself targets for the things that YOU can control including;
• The amount of time you can devote to networking
• The number of events you can attend
• The number of 1-2-1’s you can arrange
• How much time you can spend online
• Building a contacts database
• What introductions you can give
• Choose the right networking organisation for you
* Habit 4: Think Win/Win:
Develop a giving mentality and become an Advocate for others. An Advocate is someone who promotes you and your services without being asked or paid. Remember, what goes round comes round.
* Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood:
When you meet someone through networking you need to bear in mind whether you want to take it further. To help you decide try & listen more than talk, understand their issues and build rapport. Ask open questions and good follow-up questions. Reveal things about yourself to establish common ground.
* Habit 6: Synergise:
Look for synergies whenever you meet people and add them to your network. The value of future collaboration will exceed the sum of what each of you could achieve on your own.
* Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw:
Use the knowledge in your network to constantly learn and improve. Share your knowledge with the network so they can do the same. Look out for networks that value the education that members can share with each other.