One of the easiest ways to improve your networking ability and your social life is to develop the skill of talking to strangers. Well, depends in situations. Not weird ones.
We're trained as children to fear strangers, don't ever take sweets when offered (which is truly good for safety reasons, am I right?) but most people carry this fear into adulthood where it does more harm than good. Yknow? It becomes a constraint on the number of people you can actually meet and interact with. You get stuck in a small box, only open to creating new relationships through people you already know. Mostly, through mutual friends. If you already know a lot of people, this can work all right, but it limits you to meeting people who are generally like you. If you are new to an area and don't have many friends, the fear of talking to strangers is absolutely crippling.
Fortunately, developing the skill of talking to strangers is easy. Once you get started the immense benefits and excitement it brings will encourage you to keep going. Thou sometimes you'll feel awkward at first, you'll make it through! Sometimes life will change, and you'll somehow be happy or, life goes on as what it was before. In modern society this simply isn't true. Most people are friendly and perfectly open to conversing with you. It just takes a little bit of effort to cross the stranger's barrier. Each person is an incredible learning opportunity. What they tell you about themselves, how they live and interact with the world. There is a wealth information waiting to be tapped. Sometimes, a few pointers from other people might just help you out in life. After all I've just said, just remember to look after yourselves around them strangers.
It's a beautiful world out there.
It boils down to three things:
1: Understanding the benefits of talking to strangers.
2: Knowing how to deal with the occasional rejection or unpleasant weird encounter.
3: Breaking down your fear through practice.