I believe in networking, and think it is worth some effort to network with other professionals in your area. It’s not a guaranteed way of improving your career, but I think over time you will end up becoming a better professional over time if you network with others.
In order to build and maintain a network, you have to put forth an effort regularly. My suggestion is that you set some networking goals for yourself that you can achieve, and that don’t create a large burden on the rest of your life.
I have one friend whose goal is to meet three new people at each event. He makes it a point to introduce himself to new people and find three people to have a five minute conversation with each time he attends an event.
It’s close to the end of the year, and you ought to be thinking about your goals for the new year. What do you want to accomplish, how do you want to grow? When you set some professional goals for 2012, think about including a networking goal or two. Build a short plan that you can review before your next user group meeting, happy hour, conference, whatever, and make it a point to strengthen a bond, or build a new one when you go.