Well, that sucks.
Are there any field specific symposia or journals?
I'm betting there are!
Anyway, get interested in some specific areas, bone up on the topic, then simply start a conversation with the authors as an interested student.
You can usually find these people by name with their own web pages.
While I'm pretty shitty at networking, you can at least give these folks a "by the way" style question when you thank them for their reponse to your initial enquiry.
If they are too busy to answer, who cares! However, people like their ego stroked, so if you have the ability to interact with them on their topic, you are in.
Damn, reminds me, I was carrying on an email conversation with a NASA scientist at one point about capillary cooling issues in microgravity. Ha! But that's another story.