I took my own advice at Ruby Conf and introduced myself to several of the better known speakers. One thing I asked each was: what is the common trait between yourself and others who are 'famous within the community'?
Interestingly, none thought it was a matter of being significantly smarter, or better at programming. All told me essentially the same thing: it's a matter of fearlessly and repeatedly putting yourself out there in public, and providing as much value as possible to the community.
Katrina Owen put it most succinctly: > you have to have done something in public that people appreciate.