BNI is like graduate school for networkers, and it is pretty much closed to real estate agents, since it is rare for one of us to give up our seat.
Dr. Ivan Misner has written or co-written several books on networking, and they are well worth reading and following.
It is as difficult for most people to separate a networking event from a sales fair as it is for a smoker to quit in mid-morning. Ivan Misner offers a hint - when you go to a networking event, would you like to meet someone who is looking to buy from you? Now, look around - do you think there's anybody there who came to the event hoping to buy something?
A networking event is an opportunity to meet people to begin a relationship with. It's like dating with the intent to marry. If you're willing to start with the idea of meeting people that you'd like to form lasting networking relationships with, you have a chance of being successful.
If you go into a room, talk to five people, exchange cards, go home and think, "that was a waste," then you need to learn more about networking.