Welcome to the wonderful world of networking! The nature of the beast at times is that you meet person after person who promises to give you a referral to their cousin’s brother’s ex-neighbor and then flakes out—never to be heard from again. Is everyone like that? No, you can get referrals from networking. You just have to know where to look.
The first thing to look as is which networking groups you are attending. Not all are created equal. A lot of times you will find people who are just starting a business (which is fine) but they have no skills and do not follow through on what they say they will do (which is NOT fine). So you need to be selective in which groups you join.
Secondly, another thing you have to do is to hold people accountable. When they say they know of someone they are going to refer you to you need to lock that person down. Get a commitment from them? How? By saying something like, “So you are really saying that you are going to give me a referral to Bob at Excellion? Great, what is the best way to make that happen for you?”
Then, you must lock that person down by following up with a phone call. Email can work, but a phone call is best because it is too easy for people to not get the email, or to get the email and miss it, or for it to end up in spam. If the person disappears then you need to follow-up with that person and get a clear reason as to why. Ask them, “Did I do something for you not to follow-through on your commitment?” If you did do something, then it is on you. If you didn’t (which most of the time it is just their laziness or sloppiness) then it is on THEM and they should then introduce you.
There are a lot of other things in place here, and it depends on the person’s personality. Some people LOVE to talk and make promises, but never follow-through. Some people are afraid that if they don’t promise a referral to someone they will feel bad, and therefore then they will say anything not to hurt someone’s feeling. Depending on the situation you can say something like this: “Bob, just to be clear is there any reason you would NOT feel comfortable in giving me a referral to people?” If he has any reasons eliminate them and then move on. If you follow these steps you will be much more successful on being able to get referrals from networking.