Host/producer - "In The Gate" thoroughbred podcast at ESPN
New York, New York
To answer your question, the answer is yes - it's always important to network, in any business. The thing is, while there are people who will give you advice specifically to network, etc, I approach it from a different perspective. If you really love what you do, you will wake up every day asking something like, "What else can I do in this industry today?" If you have that kind of drive, you will naturally gravitate to doing productive things and meeting "the right" people.
If you have to be told, "You need to get internships," or things like that, then you're simply not going to make it in this (or any other) business. To come to someone like me and say, "I have a ton of drive but I don't know how to channel it," that's fine. That's what people like me are here to help you do, but if we have to tell you things like, "Make sure to do your networking," then you don't have enough drive to start and you simply won't make it. If you have the drive, you'll naturally and without being told just start doing things that will eventually move you into the circles you desire.
Hope this helps!