Connect to people and organizations that are just neat, and those who you are more likely to want to reciprocate the connection back to you. I would suggest finding a skill set you are good at, which provide value and is easy for you to provide, and do so. For me, the skill I have that helps people and organization is photography.
For the last decade I have done a substantial amount of event photography for non-profits, trade associations and political campaigns - all of it free or only for reimbursement. It is great practice and often fun. At a minimum, the experiences, stories, and contacts I have received are a huge value to me. Some of these include photographing Hillary Clinton within the "bubble" of the U.S. Secret Service for 3 hours in 2005.
I also have repeatedly photographing Sen. Barack Obama for several events, along with many other national figures.
More locally, I was able to photograph for Texas State Sen. Kirk Watson twice at the Austin City Limits Festival events, last year with Kelly Willis and Bruce Robison, and also with Robert Earl Keen.
More recently, I offered to photograph my friend Erin Ivey and her group "Grand Hotel" [see also the photograph in Part I at the top], at the Driskill Hotel. I have provided Erin and Rolf some great photos they can use, and I think they are destined to break out. Erin and Rolf are just neat people and I was glad to help them. Listen to their music at:
This last week on Friday, I was also able to photograph a closed reception for Qiao Hong, Consul General of the Houston Consulate for the People's Republic of China, as a courtesy for the Austin Asian community. The weekend before, I photographed the "Heroes" event the weekend before that, for the Central Texas Chapter of the American Red Cross. Both neat events.
I have even been able to photograph Sarah Butler as Mother Ginger during the Nutcracker from backstage at the Bass Concert Hall. That was pretty neat, too!! For the Butlers, I have repeatedly offered my photographic skills in humble "thank you" for the great things they do for the arts in Austin, and for me in particular. I am a Knight of the Symphony because of the Butler family.
What talents do you have and who can you offer to help by volunteering your time? Ask yourself that question and then find ways to help! It is an excellent way to get great opportunities and connect to the very people you seek.