My best piece of advice is to tell you to ask for advice. It’s smart to approach industry people and say you are looking for guidance or advice as opposed asking outright for a job or a favor. If you do, the most common answer is no, and then it’s over. But if you ask for advice, you can get a conversation going. The overwhelming norm in the biz is for people to not respond, but folks are generally pretty open to talking about themselves and their work. Approach them for their guidance. Once talking, you can see if they can offer specific suggestions or, better yet, referrals. Then always follow-up with a thank you email. And then follow-up again if something happens as a result of a meeting. In old Hollywood, an agent had a saying to never let the sun set on a call. I would never let 24 hours go on a work email, especially when you starting off. Actually, when you are trying to get into the industry, I wouldn’t let 3-4 hours go by. Think that the only reason you wouldn’t get back to someone right away is that you were at a long movie. If you think this could make you a neurotic mess who keeps checking their cell phone, go to the hot Hollywood cafes and look around you.
People judge you based on how you communicate and network with them. Because they want you do that it that way with others if they work with you! If I interact with a student who is sloppy with this, I likely won’t refer them to someone I know in the industry. If I do, I could annoy them, or they could think less of my judgment for doing so. One advantage you have is that most people utterly lack the ability to properly all this. If you can, you are elite, and prompt, proper, and respectful communication is at the heart of it. Remember, too, that networking should be thought of as a long-term process. A coffee now can result in a job ten years later. In one case, I haven't actually seen a filmmaker in ten years. But I knew him well enough, we had enough past in common, and we stayed in touch enough that I could refer a student of mine for a job last year. And as a result, she worked on one of the top films of 2014.