I was at an event recently where someone said that the owners of small businesses often operate a really unstructured approach to marketing. This is often an irregular series of one off initiatives in relation to short term needs. The problem with this approach is that each new activity takes a lot of effort and does not build on the things that have been done before. It leads to a lot of wasted time and frustration.
Many business owners and professionals adopt a similar approach to networking. Attending loads of events when new business is needed with infrequent activity when they are busy. Both marketing and networking are much more productive when done systematically.
Instead of networking like crazy when you need something adopt a simple, straightforward, systematic approach. This means building your network rather than meeting lots of people infrequently. Take the time to build the right relationships with the right people for you and your business. Then take the time to understand what they need and help them achieve it. Don't forget to let them know what you need and how they can help you. This approach means you can invest your time effectively at fewer events and leave more time to doing what you really enjoy and get paid to do.