I regularly come across people who say things like “I do not go along to those networking events as you only ever get small businesses attending”. That is not always the case. At your next networking event you could be talking to someone from a larger organisation without ever realising it.
I have met many “life coaches” who are actually working for large companies and testing the water before taking the plunge. I was the same. I ran my sales consulting business in my spare time a full year before I left the corporate world. People who took the trouble to get to know me as a person rather than looking at people as a target got a very nice surprise. I was able to help them in all sorts of unexpected ways. I have had so much help from people I have met who are networking undercover.
Step back from the ‘what do you do’ approach and take time to discover the person. The real value from networking comes from putting the relationships first. You never really know who someone is until you take the time to get to know them.