Networking is critical to building your business. So is building your own network of relationships without sacrificing your authentic self.

I recently was inspired by a conversation with Judy Robinett, author of “How to be a Power Connector.” Robinett and I have been in and around the same circles for about a decade but have never met. She is a legend among the female executive power-set, particularly in the investor community. Her experience includes c-suite positions in public companies, numerous board seats, and start-up investor. And being a master networker.

Robinett, who describes herself as naturally shy, has managed to build relationships with some of the world’s most powerful people, from multinational CEOs to billionaire entrepreneurs. She overcame her shyness by focusing on getting to know the people she was meeting-;learning about their interests, values, and passion. You too can start from a place of common interest by targeting people who you believe may hold some insight and passion into your topic and with every network-building conversation, ask these three questions of the people you meet:

What are you working on and how can we work together?

The best place to build a strong relationship is by offering to be a source of assistance. Before you reach out to your target connections, make sure to take stalk in your capabilities and what value you have to offer. I invested some time taking inventory of my value by asking the people around me what they turn to me for, where they feel my greatest strengths are and where they believe I hold blind spots. I created a personal brand story that feels authentic to me. It's a value-based story I can tell very comfortably so that the person I am talking with knows who I am and that when I offer to help, she or he know exactly how I can help them. "Everyone, even highly successful people, has wants and needs," says Robinett. You just may be the one to help them.

Robinett shared an experience where she met with the very successful and highly-networked executive founder of an organization that funds women-funded start-ups. After hearing the executive’s strategic pitch, Robinett reached out, unsolicited, to share her suggestions. "I offered my thoughts on incorporating crowdfunding. She asked for my card and called me the next day. We have since built a strong connection," says Robinett.

I am trying to connect with people who can help me; do you have someone you would recommend?