These are very time-consuming efforts and may take away some time from your writing (Believe me, I know) but no matter how good your work is or how much you write, if you don't have a way to get your foot in the door your work may never get published. Networking takes time, but the payoff will be worth it in the end. You never know who in your writing group might make it, but if you worked with them and they know the quality of your work they might be willing to introduce you to their agent. Agents run discussion boards and participate (often under different names) so when they see your name come across their desk (figuratively speaking) and they have seen how professionally you handle yourself, then they are more likely to give you a chance.
Now a word of caution: As you navigate these circles, keep in mind that you are promoting yourself. Be as professional and courteous as you would in "real" life. Recently a friend linked me to an author's melt-down after she didn't care for a review and the woman pretty much killed her career because of her little scene. The internet is a big, scary place and EVERYONE can know anything within seconds! The Hollywood adage that there is no such thing as bad publicity is NOT TRUE!!! No one wants to work with a diva, especially an author diva!
Although the effort is time-consuming and may take a long time, eventually the effort will pay off. For example, I recently made a great contact with an author named Dawn Tevy who also hosts a blog-talk radio channel and has some really great contacts out west. I am now on with her Thursday nights doing a review of To Believe or Not to Believe by Rahasya Poe with the possibility of doing more book reviews with her in the future! She has put me in touch with a great web designer and I got a free year for my website which will be starting soon! All this happened just days after another author friend of mine urged me to join Goodreads.
So get out there and network!!!
(For those of you interested in checking out the radio interviews, you can access them on Dawn's websites
Hope you enjoy!)