Don’t worry about your network. Worry about your friends.
If you have successful friends, you will be successful. It’s pretty much that simple. If you hang out with a bunch of losers, you too will adopt their loser ways and not achieve anything. Regardless of whether or not you go out and network, please make sure that your friends are ambitious and hard working people who you admire.
For some, this means that they will have to move on from their high school buddies. For others, it means that they will need to have friends who are older than they are. Some people will have to learn new skills in order to penetrate the friend groups that they would like to join.
But if you hang out with quality people, you won’t need to worry about networking. Your friends will be your network. The only reason you are reading this article is because Sarah Lacy has a lot of friends who are very high quality, and they not only supported her PandoDaily ambition, but also put money into it. And even though she is nobody, she does have quality friends.
It works. I’ve seen it work innumerable times. Your friends bring you up or pull you down. There’s no in-between. Make sure they are pulling you up.
The suggestion may seem harsh and something straight out of Mean Girls, but it’s probably not all that far from what many folks’ moms and dads say: be careful of the company you keep. Don’t fall in with a bad crowd. That sort of thing.
“Your friends are fucking dicks and assholes,” an acquaintance of mine once said, little bits of spittle and other ejecta flying from his mouth as he expressed his utter disdain. He was referring my circle of friends from Toronto’s DemoCamp scene: techies, businesspeople and creatives who liked getting together to talk about the stuff they were making, and how to energize the city’s tech and startup scene. They in fact were warm, welcoming and kind to him; it’s just that he felt far more comfortable around a less ambitious crowd and most at home with people you’d swear were characters from Portlandia:
…you know, the sort of people who complain that one of the first questions people in my circles ask is “What do you do?” They hate the question because they don’t like their answer.