Jack Palance uttered the classic line "Confidence is sexy, don'tcha think?" While I don't know how accurate that is, the fact remains that folks do prefer to associate themselves with confident people. Those who act as if they aren't so sure of themselves give off an aura of desperation whose stench would quickly overpower the scent of Jack's cologne.
The funny thing is, good networking practice tends to reveal an underlying assurance. Think about it. Passing someone a referral says you are doing so well that you can afford to spread the wealth a little. This holds even if the referral wasn't something you could do in the first place. By corollary, you must have enough work that you can afford to be choosy with whom you work in the future. That makes you exclusive and worth pursuing.
How about treating someone to lunch or even just a coffee? Well, shucks, that means you've got money in the bank. Business must be good!
Then there's the gift of your time. If you are volunteering, are you desperate to get new work into your pipeline? Nope! After all you've got time to volunteer for a cause which is important to you. Never mind the fact that you are actually making great connections as a result of being a part of the group -- connections that could easily turn into business in the future.
Now, I don't know if anyone comes to these conclusions consciously. It is definitely true, however, that projecting confidence in yourself and what you do will be far more likely to build the strong relationships you want. It'll do a lot better than projecting desperation and uncertainty.
After all, who wants to be around someone who's begging?
Photo credit: cogdogblog