You need both!
The saying “your network is your net worth” feels trite to me.
Even now, when I type it, it gives me the feeling that “networker” at an event, handing out business cards. You know how they work, going from person to person asking the “right” questions to see if someone is worth the trouble of “linking” with.
I hate that guy (or girl).
Same thing with the idea that you just need to ship projects.
The saying “if you build it, they will come” has sunk teams for decades now.
They saying is awful because it leads to the genius in his bedroom stereotype, who has all the know-how in the world but needs an NDA to discuss it. Trust me, even if you signed it, it isn’t worth the ink that you used the NDA on.
What is the alternative?
Taking the people and projects approach. Making sure you connect with people and build your tribe through outreach, meetups, and coffee. Speaking with them about the work you are doing (and you are doing a project!) while having a genuine interest in where they are, regardless of “status.”
Because the secret is, both of those caricatures are right; they just go about it all wrong.