Networking is a must do if you're an author, heck, maybe it is in any business. It scared me at first. Like many authors, I'm something of an introvert--except on paper. But the experts said you must network, mingle, converse, and so out I went into the wide, writerly world to make contacts.
Years later, I have a different take on it. You see, those contacts are your support structure. They're your team, and you're theirs (keep that reciprocation in mind at all times). The contacts you make in the field, at conventions, on forums, boards and blog fests, are the most valuable resource you can imagine. Trust me. Networking provides information that can save you from making huge mistakes. It provides a wider reach for you to promote and share your work. Networking, good.
But the best part is the one I never, ever would have guessed at. Through this networking magic, I have met some of the most amazing people. Talented people, helpful people, kind-hearted, supportive, wonderful people. I've made friends out there, and I mean real ones. Treasures. Friends like Jaleta Clegg, whose book was so engaging I had to take my shiny new e-reader into the bathtub to finish it. (not joking)
Friends who cross country to visit, who can bring their whole family to your house for days and days, and you still are sad to see them go. (seriously, not kidding)
That, my fellow networkers, is a real bonus.