The most valuable networking you'll ever do will have no obvious immediate gain. It's about being out there and communicating your personal brand, your company, and your vision to as wide an audience as possible. Over time, these seeds take root and the value can be immense.
A listener will be most engaged when your responses and suggestions are relevant to their specific needs. Not every communication is an opportunity to blow your own business trumpet. Sometimes you may find yourself sharing information about another company or service that you have heard of.
Sew What, Inc.?
My most interesting networking realization is that in 30 years in international business, I have yet to meet anyone personally or professionally interesting in first class. However, nearly every time I fly economy on a miserable, long flight, I am seated with someone who proves to be an interesting person and from whom I can learn something. Inspiration does not come in first class or from a consultant with an MBA!
President and CEO
Helping others be successful is a fabulous way (good karma aside) to establish the basis for future value back to yourself. Even better? Connecting connectors—you'll be come a super-connector and a networking maven.
Tell everyone what you would do in their situation and give your ideas away. If someone likes them chances are they will hire you to execute them. If they don't hire you and steal your idea, be flattered not upset.
If you've got a great vision you should be excited to share it with everyone.