Get out there! You will not make any contacts if you do not put yourself out there and meet people. Start by developing meaningful professional relationships. You do this like any other relationship – sit down and get to know the person. Know who they are, what they do, and what their interests outside of work are, and ensure that they know the same about you. Before you ask this person for any sort of favor, they have to trust in your professional capabilities.
Do not be afraid to meet people outside your direct area of interest. They may be able to point you in directions you had never before considered, and can be helpful in connecting you with people you would never otherwise meet.
Be sure to maintain your contacts by keeping in touch consistently. If someone helps you, always be sure to personally thank them. Before asking for a favor, be sure to ask if there is anything you can do for them.
Above all, just practice, practice, practice! The more you engage in networking, the more naturally it will come. Especially if you are shy, it’s very important to work on making connections with people as much as possible.