I believe that most offices try to keep the benefits of networking in-house, so independents probably do have a disadvantage there, but no more than the agent who works for another franchise. To break through the barrier, the independent has to offer a skill or specialization not found in the office. For example, if you're the only agent specializing in horse properties in downtown Chicago, franchise agents may wish to co-list with you rather than working alone or with someone in their office who has the same lack of experience as they have.
Networking is amazing, but like everything else it must be focused. I am a director for the BNI Mass team and I train folks in the art of Networking. If done properly it can be incredible profitible. Our society is so insular that we need a way to connect with others. I would say that is the last 12 months my partner and I have generated about $4,000,000 in sales from networking referrals. If you have more questions you can feel free to contact me directly. Best
I think networking is a must for the small independant.
The large brokerages can get by a lot with just name recognition, the independant has to get his name around to be successful.