In several AC pieces now, I have suggested that you should avoid business networking, but that leads to the issue of how to succeed without networking. Can you succeed without networking? Of course you can. Here are three ways to do it.
Method 1: Work In A Field Where You Don’t Have To Be Noticed. You can rise to the top in many different fields without schmoozing anyone. Think of any of the following one-person businesses: real estate investing, on-line sales, writing (e.g., books, articles, blogs), web design, stock market investing. Each of these businesses offers potential financial success without any networking. Many multi-person businesses can also be run with little or no networking (e.g., fast food franchise, home repair, retail store). If you know you don’t want to network, stay away from service industries and find a professional field that will let you succeed on your own.
Method 2: Be So Good That People Can’t Help But Notice You. Even if you hate networking, you might find yourself in a service industry where networking is taken as a given (e.g., law, accounting, banking). In these provisions, I have noticed that professionals generally fall into one of two camps: (1) rainmakers and (2) experts. The rainmakers primarily focus on networking to bring in business, while the experts focus on their craft and provide excellent service to clients that the rainmakers provide. If you are a professional in a service industry, but do not want to network, become an expert rather than a rainmaker. Be so good at doing what you do that people will turn to you for advice, even if you don’t schmooze them.
Method 3: Define Your Success In Non-Monetary Terms. The most insidious aspect of networking as a business strategy is that it implies that money is the primary goal of life – more important, even, than social relationships with other people. You do not have to accept that claim. In fact, you do not even need to be financially successful to be happy. If you define happiness in terms of the things that really make people happy (e.g., meaningful relationships, continous learning, and ethical behavior), you do not have to make millions of dollars to achieve happiness. There are plenty of people who could be wealthy if they joined the networking game, but who choose not to because financial success is not important to them.
If you believe networking is an essential part of business, reevaluate your role. Chances are good that one of these three strategies will allow you to go on succeeding with little or no networking.