We address the issue of the low electrical conductivity observed in carbon nanotube networks using first-principles calculations of the structure, stability, and ballistic transport of different nanotube junctions. We first study covalent linkers, using the nitrene-pyrazine case as a model for conductance-preserving [2 + 1] cycloadditions, and discuss the reasons for their poor performance. We then characterize the role of transition-metal adsorbates in improving mechanical coupling and electrical tunneling between the tubes. We show that the strong hybridization between the transition-metal d orbitals with the pi orbitals of the nanotube can provide an excellent electrical bridge for nanotube nanotube junctions. This effect is maximized in the case of nitrogen-doped nanotubes, thanks to the strong mechanical coupling between the tubes mediated by a single transition metal adatom. Our results suggest effective strategies to optimize the performance of carbon nanotube networks.