Blogger Professor in Training writes that although having a strong CV is important, more often than not in the sciences, "having good contacts can also get you far." She says that she and her lab have been struggling to secure external funding, but recently, because of connections she made earlier on, "great opportunities drop into my lap thanks to the people that I know."
Meanwhile, Massimo Boninsegni at Exponential Book writes that he's unsure whether junior scientists "should make a concerted effort aimed at forming such relationships" with colleagues and mentors. "Does it mean that one should make a point of attending conferences, or even social functions, mainly to introduce him/herself to individuals that are prominent in one's field of research, even in the absence of any compelling scientific reason?" he asks. Boninsegni says that personal connections are most effective when established early on — in graduate school, with mentors and advisors, as well as fellow students and postdocs, adding, "that is not to say that one should not try to keep a high profile, go to conferences, present one's work and try and elicit the attention of as many colleagues as possible. But simply trying to pursue personal ties for the sake of promoting one's career, in my opinion, aside from the insincerity of it all, does not really work in the end."
In a comment to that post, a reader relays the story of a colleague who wished to "generate more visibility," by giving talks at conferences and offering to speak at "fancy" institutions. "I thought, namely that a good way to 'generate visibility' might be to author some of these things called 'peer-reviewed publications,'" the reader writes.