I feel confidence that if I where in a pinch, I could call on the community to help me find some contract work if need be.
To say that it is just some virtual bits floating around somewhere is to discount the real world connections that this site provides and I think Kara at some level serves as you credibility when making those connections, just like everything else, it is what you make of it.
The constant focus on not being adversarial promotes an environment of collaboration over competition, in which the individual members feel a bond of tribe among one another and therefore look to help one another out. I have to say it is a refreshing break from some of the rudely arrogant attitudes that are tolerated and sometimes promoted on some other sites.
Many times I've seen someone online be piled-on, and while I've felt sorry for them I've often seen them come back much more respectful.
It's when you have a comment the represents your opinion and you think it's well written, but it still has been voted down for unknown reasons with no replies in can play on your mind. It's like your telling someone something, they tell you they disagree and the conversations ends there.