These days so much networking is done online; email, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to mention a few. Not allowing for face to face interaction and the opportunity let alone the availability to really sit and discuss / debate your industry. There is something to be said for just sitting around and talking face to face with colleagues.
I get my fair share of knowledge and excitement from events that I attend, but those are not the only places I find value. I feel a great deal of value comes from the networking at not only the formal networking events set up at these things, but the after everything has shut down and people are more laid back type of networking.