The "Six degrees of Separation" philosophy suggests we are all connected through five intermediaries or less. These circles of influence beyond our first inner circle have more contacts the further you go. So, to grow our network exponentially, we need to increase our outer circles of influence.
We should have a defined purpose to increase our influence and grow our network. For networking's sake alone, networking serves no meaningful purpose and could be counterproductive. However, your networking will be more effective when you identify a specific purpose.
Better yet, find a higher purpose if you are serious about succeeding. Focusing on a higher purpose will be the cornerstone of your networking strategy. For example, a higher purpose in performance coaching could be to help others achieve their potential.
In addition, I recently read about a woman that did not like to network. Her colleagues reminded her that women's voices are underrepresented in business and that the media attention she could receive by speaking up would help counter gender bias.
So, we must focus on developing our network of contacts with a higher purpose. Otherwise, our network will continue to shrink.