I live in LA. And I go to a lot of conferences. On top of that I often drag myself to networking events. And this is the #1 tidbit I've picked up about networking.
If you don't know what's going on in the industry, and at least a passing knowledge of all the releases and projects, you won't last long in conversation with anybody. And if you can't last long in a conversation, you won't make the contact. And without the contact... you get the idea.
So here's a quick tip. If you don't go to many movies or the funds to buy lots of comic books, no problem. If you don't have the time to read every published novel or watch every tv show, that's okay.
NOBODY does. The only people that can are assistants and executives whose sole job it is to find new ideas. For the rest of us, we cheat.
Cheating is easy because all you need is the internet and a Google reader feed. Then, you go to Variety and Hollywood Reporter, Deadline, and every other blog site that has any relevance to film, TV, comic books, novels or any other form of media. Click on their RSS feed and get it sent to your Google reader account. Then, spend a few hours every week reading through them voraciously. Anything gets a lot of traction, go out and consume that piece and let the rest go.
It's as easy as that. Now there's no excuse for you not to be savvy next time you meet somebody in the industry. A little knowledge goes a long way, but none will get you nowhere.