I make a point of introducing myself to people online who are unlikely to become clients. You for instance.
That's not altruism. It's curiosity. Learning about other people's business models, industries, unique challenges and goals -- even absorbing their phrases, vocabulary, and style -- prepares me for some other branding client later on.
Being attuned to other people is the starting point of real life interactions, isn't it? Business networking is no different from wandering around from the car mechanic's to the coffee shop and striking up conversations with people along the way.
As JFK once said, "My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country." When networking, I encourage you to approach it with a "give first, get later" mindset. You'll find the more that you offer to help others, the more their offers to help you returns in greater abundance.
First of all, I LOVE this question. My answer is coming from what Life is teaching me: abundance begets abundance. If you are operating from a belief that you are lacking abundance, then you will be pushy and needy. So of course that is how you will sound. But if you resonate abundance, you will attract that to yourself. So, if the community around you doesn't reflect abundance, you have to look within. At your deepest core, are you fulfilled? At your deepest truth level, do you feel joyful, inspired, creative, satisfied? If not, resolve that first. Then your "sound" will resonate the joy inside of you. And so will your community.
As a business law lawyer, I do this often in the startup space. Everyone builds business their own way, and mine involves a lot of networking. What I have learned is that, when YOU are truly excited about your project - product, service, whatever it is you are doing - all you need to do is to find people active in the same space and talk about it. Often, all that is needed to tag someone's interest in what you are doing is to be interested in it yourself. If you are networking simply to "build community" it is even easier, because you aren't trying to push your product (i.e. make a sale) right away (which is where sounding needy and pushy normally comes in). In addition to sharing the interesting (and hopefully innovative) thing you are interested in, you should listen attentively and actively to the things the other person is doing. The best members of your "community" will be people who have complementary projects and knowledge to yours. Simply having this truly enthusiastic and authentic conversation, and following up/maintaining the relationship, is how you make connections that last. Happy to chat further if you like.