Hi Matthew S,
Coming from anyone at such young age, I am marveled that you think in this manner and delighted to help shed some light on the subject.
In anything in life, it is through people that things are achieved. Having good relations with others is key to mining the opportunities that matter the most.
Long Term relationships must be based on mutual interest and mutual respect and considerations.
I would say before meeting anyone, two important factors must be considered: 1) Finding the opportunities that are of most importance to you and within your scope of interest. and 2) Finding the contacts that open the door to these opportunities.
Time is a precious and limited commodity. But every time you meet someone, the connection must be genuine and meaningful. Not just to you, but to both. You must be willing and ready to be of service to others as well and as much as they may be of service to you.
First rule is : Social Skills. Common courtesies and good manners. LISTENING is very very important. The world and people will reveal themselves to you if you are willing to be receptive rather then responsive or expressive.
We meet people all the time, thousands, but which contacts do you wish to keep and build a long term and lasting relationships?
Business people have all sorts of contacts in all sorts of fields. I have more than 2000 contacts, but do not interact with them all the time. Some are distant, some personal and professional. They must be willing to take my call or answer my question, even when we have not seen each other in a while. Key is social skills and being genuine.
Some works just require a brief time and interaction, but all must be successful in the sense that people would want to collaborate with you and work with you again.
Some connections become a life time and personal friends. People and connections are an important marketing and social tool. But like above, don't be fake. Always be competent, Make it real and be positive and likable.
After business hours, there is always some kind of activity taking place, from sports, to games, to dinner, dance. During these activities business people make a deeper connection with others. Pretty much like lunch and cafeteria talks, sleep overs and spring break vacations. Lots of information is exchanged that lead to opportunities and meaningful contacts. In the business realm, it is called networking.
For higher level connections, try to join associations. They teach everything from public speaking to strategic thinking and service to society. It is all part of business life.
Let me know if this was useful, and if you have any other question, know that we are always here for you.