Matt Lyons is a very successful corporate lawyer who has little free time in his schedule. He has a top tier legal practice, a new baby, and too many other commitments in his schedule. Over the course of his career he has seen the benefits of networking and building a personal/professional brand, but when there is a pressing client issues, he drops everything else and focuses only on the matter at hand.
He is so dedicated to being a phenominal lawyer, that he can lapse into times when he does not do any business development. The downside to this is that when the project is complete, there is no new work in the pipeline to keep Matt and his team working to full capacity. This boom and bust mentality to networking is a common problem that haunts many business professionals.
I recommend that you carve out a small amount of time every day, or every week, where you commit to doing the basic things that are needed for cultivating your network of contacts. Matt's answer is that he arrives at the office thirty minutes early three days a week and dedicates this time to answering emails and returning phone calls. He also uses this time to set up networking lunches and to RSVP for seminars and other business meetings that he wishes to attend. He double checks his calendar and blocks out periods of time to ensure that he will not ignore the networking obligations that are necessary to continue to grow his practice.
Make meeting new people and cultivating professional relationships a priority and over time you will reap the rewards. People who do not have a strong network often marvel at those that have created deep business relationships. But anyone can build a network that will lead to more business, but only by investing time in other people. If you are always focused on yourself, you will never build a useful network.
Make the time and then follow through.