Saturday, June 12, 2010

It's Not What You Know, It's Who You Know

I'm sure that you have heard the old saying, "It's not what you know, it's who you know." There are generally two kinds of people who say this. Some people say it as an excuse for why they cannot get ahead in life. This kind of person will say it in this context:

Well, you know, I got a degree, and I got a great resume and I've done this and that, and even the other thing, but I didn't get that great job. I've just got this dead end thing. I don't know why I even bother. After all, it's not what you know, it's who you know. If I was born rich, I'd know the right people, but I wasn't so I'm out of luck.
Ever heard someone talk like that? That is the more common use of this saying. However, the other kind of person who says it is someone like me. I completely agree that having the right contacts is absolutely vital in getting where you want to go in the world. The difference between me and our friend quoted above is that I have come to discover one very important secret.

Ready to learn the secret?

OK, here it is...

You can meet people. Let's say that you feel like our friend quoted above. You are stuck and don't know where to turn because you do not know the right people. What do you do?

The first step is to believe that you can get what you want. If you don't believe that you can get ahead, then you will never get ahead, no matter what you do.

The next step is to figure out what you want and ask for it. When I decided to create a network, I knew I would need to meet with a lot of people to set it up. The way I met with them was very simple. I called them on the phone, explained what I was doing and said that I would like to meet with them. What do you think they said when I asked to meet with them? Every single person I spoke to agreed to meet with me. Every single one.

The original concept was that I would sit down with them, learn about what they did and tell them a bit about what I did for the Company. It went something like that, except for the fact that I would usually find listening to them talk about what they did so interesting that I would have to force myself to remember to mention my own work. I have learned more about the world in the last three weeks than I did in a year of college, and it is only just starting.

Something else happened when I sat down to meet with these people. Opportunities came to light. When you take two motivated, enthusiastic, creative people and put them together, you would be amazed at the ideas that can come out. From talking to Tom Gilliam (@Tom_Gilliam on Twitter) came the idea of Stone Soup Network Meetups. After talking to Val Nelson, I realized the need for a LinkedIn Group. There are all kinds of other things which may be developing from the contacts that I am not even at liberty to discuss here.

Ultimately, my point is that if you want something, go for it. Don't just wait for something to happen, make something happen. Even if you don't know what the proper first step is, take an action, see where it leads. Wash, rinse, repeat. It may not get you where you thought you wanted to go, but it will certainly get you somewhere.

Here is a link to Business By Referral, the book that got me started on the road to the Stone Soup Network.
Additionally, another book you might like is Never Eat Alone, a book about building a personal network even if you don't think you know anyone of consequence.

Not sure where to start getting into the world of networking? Drop me a line. I'll help you out.

Hint: It must happen face to face. The Internet doesn't count. Go meet live people.

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