Networking is what happens when two parties agree to communicate in a way that both will benefit from the exchange on an individual level. A mutual agreement is made that allows both parties to use each other to advance their work goals.
Conversation is a means to an end for networking. It's used as a tool with an explicit purpose of fishing out answers to the question "what can you do for me?".
But the best conversations aren't an exchange. The best conversations happen when two people are curious enough to create a new story together.
The best conversations involve a curious listener interacting with a passionate speaker. Both parties in a good conversation trade roles over and over again. It's not about being fair and sharing equal conversation time, though that is inevitably in the back of both's mind, it's about feeding the energy before it fizzles out.
Networking is admittedly a loaded term that's become hard to stomach due to poor networkers and fake business people. Until networking gets rebranded into a more palatable buzzword, it will remain nothing but uninteresting conversation to me.