I prefer the traditional way - "real" people in the real world, plus the "give and you shall receive" formula
I do have a helper syndrom and I don't really expect anything back, and I heard once that "the best gift you can make to somebody, is giving them a contact". In business, I think that's true. So whenever I can connect someone, I'll do it. I guess especially when you live in a foreign country and don't really know how things work, you start appreciating good tips or connections.
My latest experience was when I went to my hair dresser, who is so cool and different and crazy and told her that I was gonna put a link to her on my website, because every visit at her shop is a social event, plus you come out with great hair... And she said "And I'm gonna talk about you to everyone who comes in here, because most of them are potential clients for you! And put your business card on the notice board!"
It's true to identify a few contacts, who can create volume. As part of my business (the non-profit part..) I'm going to offer (new) small business owners a platform to connect and network. When I thought about how to find them, I realized I just need to talk to my web designer! She's one of the first point of contacts for a new business, since every new business owner needs a web site..