Hi Fatima (et al)
Regarding REAL networking I've greatly enjoyed @Christopher Owens
answer and links, thanks Christopher, and I also agree with many other answers.
I guess networking is a very subjective issue and no matter what approach or tool you use, your millage may vary.
Though I'm not a great networker myself, I would, as others, summarize it as:
- Do you homework PREVIOUSLY
- Don't be shy but neither too aggressive, respect others time and space
- Follow up not thinking only about your 'sales' (maybe funding, maybe plain sales) but also about helping the other party and starting a relationship. Win-win relationships exists, really, they are not just buzzwords, but you have to work them out.
Trying to keep the sales pitch out of this post, we have built a product for helping in the previous phase and in the 'shyness' phase of networking at events. It's called Meetabout (http://www.meetabout.es/)
and we have had surprising networking results. But then... you have to follow up... that's your work ;-)