Fair cop - It's not really a 'proper' network.
It's taken me a long time to assemble a group of friends who are business contacts, business contacts who are friends, friends who are just friends - you get the idea, there's even a few competitors in there, but that's ok.
In personality tests I come out as a 'connector' - amongst other things, 'connectors' get a kick out of introducing people, linking people together , and although I was sceptical about personality tests for a long time I do see some identifiable traits in the way I do things. I'd describe my style as more organic than directed though ! Anyway - I like my network- they are clever, well connected, interesting people and although I do not indulge in the rather mechanical ' exchange of favours' (as in 'He owes me a favour..') which 1. completely contradicts the meaning of the term 'favour' and 2. is just a little bit naff, I do like being able to call on some help when I need it - of course my network calls on me too - that's ok though.
I don't worry too much about having competitors in there because ultimately I think the world runs better on relationships than it does on commerce.
The bottom line is that it's a valuable thing - I don't necessarily use it as effectively as I could, but that's not the point, to a large extent it just happened. I didn't intentionally create it, rather it is a by-product of a lot of different threads which have been woven together, often clumsily, over the years.
I could have been more purposeful in my networking for business - but I'm not super keen on 'networking events'. I'd rather get to know people one to one, which does slow things down a bit, but that's fine too, and my 'work' is often pretty indistinguishable from the other stuff I do so I don't bother trying to segment my network into 'personal' and 'corporate'.
So - if you're looking for the 'top 10 networking tips that will guarantee success' I'm definitely not your man, but I have one tip - be open to connections, however randomly they appear to be formed, and accept that relationships, like businesses take time to develop.
Pete Henderson founded Pisys in 1988 and still has room in his 'sort of' network.