Having a lot to offer is definitely a plus. Skills, equipment, experience, etc. I'm only in my fourth year of rafting and I've only won one permit in a lottery, but I've managed to get on a lot of good permitted rivers in that time. Yampa, Lodore, Middle Fork, San Juan, Deso, Salt, etc. Some have been from getting my very small group of close friends to put in and they won. Others from picking up cancellations. And others from getting invited by people I hadn't even met but we had developed a rapport just from interacting online.
I run a forum kind of like Mountain Buzz but focused on hiking and backpacking. One of the big differences between the two sites is that the main focus of my site is on posting photos and trip reports. There's a bit of that here, but usually it's just a quick report of conditions or something and a lot more discussion about gear and other things related to rivers. With more in-depth reports and photos, you really get to know people a lot better, IMO. I'm not trying to bag on the Buzz here, because I've learned an insane amount from this site, but that aspect is lacking. I think it makes it a lot harder to connect with the people that would be a good fit for you and your group and vice versa. Granted, hiking might be easier for taking photos and writing reports, but I still post all of my rafting reports on my site and it has resulted in being invited on some awesome trips. And I felt great going with those people because they'd posted reports as well, and I was able to look at them and think 'those guys seem cool, I'd like to get on a river with them'. You still get that to an extent without reports and photos, just not as much.
It hasn't always worked out great. I have some horror stories from people I've met up with for backpacking trips that totally oversold their skills and just weren't great to be around, but generally it's been great and some of my best friendships have been made that way. I guess I'm kind of a hypocrite saying we should all post trip reports and get to know each other better when I don't post mine here, but the old clunky software and corporate ownership on this site makes it a pain in the ass. I'd cross-post my rafting reports here but I'm not sure how the admins would feel about that.
Last thing, when you do get your hands on a permit, I think it's important to invite people and try to expand your circle. It's a little scary because you don't really know what you're going to get sometimes, but it seems more and more like that's going to the the future of getting on the hard-to-get permitted rivers. At the rate applications keep going up, I'll be shocked if I ever win another permit in a lottery. Oh, and when you do get an invite, be the best damn person they've ever invited. Offer to do anything and everything. Offer to bring any and every piece of gear. Have an awesome attitude. Bring the TL a nice bottle of booze (or something) as a token of your appreciation. Be the person that people want to have on every trip. Your circle or 'alliance' will just grow with every opportunity.