Over recent years I’ve added a few new skills to my list of things that I do, and I’ve tried to get somewhere with some of them. Like with most things, when you want to charge for performing a service, people usually don’t want said service anymore.

But when you’re just starting out, eager to do what you want to do, and don’t care about getting paid, to the extent that it even ends up costing you instead, there’s something else putting up a wall to hinder your progress: Networking.

As someone that absolutely despises to network (and generally dislikes having to meet new people in general), this, I believe, has been my biggest setback.

But I don’t think I’m alone in this. In fact, I’ve seen and heard other instances where this has been the deciding factor, where network matters more than what you’re actually doing. And I think that’s horrible.

For instance, an online competition where the contribution with the most likes wins. Even if an entry is above all the rest, it most likely will not win, because a different entry is backed by someone that has a large, or larger, network that they can tap into. An even if you’re the kind of person that would only vote for the one that you feel is the better of them all, you are rare and vastly outnumbered.

Skills don’t win competitions like that, having a vast pool of connections to tap into does.

And there’s an indisputable logic behind that winner as well. If the winner has more votes, even if those votes are not genuine, that contributor apparently has a bigger draw than the others and will grant the instance behind such a contest more attention. Which is, most likely, what they’re really after.

Here’s an example: The DJ Mag Top 100

Every year, DJ Mag holds a vote where they place the top 100 DJs in the world. It’s a pure popularity contest, as the contest is decided by votes from fans. Fans that have no idea what the competition is like, other than their personal favorite. Basically, the DJ with the most fans on Facebook to get through the voting form, wins.

Then again, it just claims to present the Top 100, not the Top 100 Best. And I’m not saying that the people on that list lack skills, I’m just claiming that the order would be very different if actual skill was the premise on which it was decided.

If a contest is to be judged on skills alone, it must have a set jury and can not be decided by popular vote in any way. Especially these days.