Do your homework before you reach out
When asking for favors – you have to value the person’s time. Before you start reaching out to your network – do your homework:
Have an updated CV – if possible you should craft your CV to reflect the job/industry you’re inquiring about.
Do your research on the company and indutry – know enough to help carry a conversation and prepare questions to help lead that conversation when the time comes. At the very least, you’ll use that research to help prepare that first email.
Know your career story: Why are you interested in the job/company/connection you’re asking about? They’re going to want to know why you’re interested. Have a well throughout and meaningful answer prepared.