I find that 7 of my 9 "careers" were jobs that I gained by "networking" although I wasn't conscious of that fact at the time. In retrospect, it makes sense that people who know me well professionally would be people who might recognize a promising position elsewhere when (or before) I was looking. Expanding horizons by meeting people in a variety of disciplines also helps to build resources for problem solving in the future. Ideally, these interactions will be interesting discussions and learning experiences rather than speed networking marathons in which there is no meaningful information exchange.
Yeah, that's probably true for a lot of kids. Being comfortable meeting people is definitely something I had to develop later - I was very quiet in high school, but in college and beyond I was really able to overcome some of my awkwardness... Or at least be comfortable enough with it not to really care!
I think a big reason I ended up in computer engineering is that I grew up in a neighborhood with no other children (other than my older sister) so I quickly learned to be comfortable spending lots of time by myself concentrating on problem solving. If I'd grown up differently, perhaps I could do "hello fellow well met" and rise to royalty instead of spending time learning how to do cool magic like Merlin.
I think there are many engineers who are like me. Otherwise ThinkGeek.com wouldn't sell this cool T-shirt which says:
Replay available now: A handful of emerging network technologies are competing to be the preferred wide-area connection for the Internet of Things. All claim lower costs and power use than cellular but none have wide deployment yet. Listen in as proponents of leading contenders make their case to be the metro or national IoT network of the future. Rick Merritt, EE Times Silicon Valley Bureau Chief, moderators this discussion. Join in and ask his guests questions.