It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. We all believe this adage, but are we using it to the best of our ability?
From our childhood, our parents and teachers taught us the importance of learning and the “what you know” part. Of course, that is helpful. But when you grow up and start working at a company or start your own business, you will soon realize that there is something more important than that.
You will understand the importance of building and nurturing relationships, including a strong personal and professional network. Who you have in your network is sometimes more important, or at least as important as what you know.
Who is the person that you’d like to get to know? Who was the person that could connect you to the right products or systems? Who is your next solution leader?
Who do you know that is connected to them? Do you know someone that is just one person away from them?
The old adage of six degrees of separation no longer holds. With social media platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, we’re all connected. I look at my friends on LinkedIn and think, “Oh my goodness, I cannot believe that that person’s connected to that person.” But are we actually using that network and that platform to the best of our ability? Who is it that you’d like to know? How can your existing connections help you?
Why “Who You Know” Matters More?
Let’s understand, why “who you know” matters more than “what you know”:
Consider a scenario, where there is only one vacancy left at an organisation for a particular job. There are only two candidates who applied for this role. Candidate A has a better educational background and more relevant experience than Candidate B.
Whereas, Candidate B is referred by an employee or manager who is well respected within the company, giving him a valuable vote of confidence.
Who do you think has the higher chance of getting hired?
Well, according to a recent study done by LinkedIn, almost 28% of the new hires come from employee referrals.
Here’s another example;
Let’s say you want to hire someone to build out a new online payment processor to collect payments from your customers.
Whom are you likely to hire the most:
i) Person A: you found this person through an online job ad. This guy has a good amount of knowledge and technical experience in setting up and fixing payment processors.
ii) Person B: This guy has similar skills and experience as Person A, but he is referred to you by a close friend, who has full faith in his skills and abilities.
Most people will go for Person B, even if you have to pay him a little more than Person A.
My Client’s Story
Whom would you like to be your mentor or advisor or coach? Have you actually sat down and identified that person? How would you connect with them? Could you get them onboard?
I was recently working with a client and I said to him, “Who would you like on your governance board? Would you like this person on your governance board?” This person is a very significant player in the international market, which one could only dream about having on their governance board. However, by asking that question and then getting the answer, I actually knew exactly who this person wanted. And then it was as simple as one degree of separation to get that person for them.
Who is the person that you want to be advised by? Who in your network currently knows that person?
Another client of mine recently launched a facial product line. The business was going quite well, but it wasn’t great. So the business was good but not great.
However, by doing their research and identifying the right influencer, within a month, their business was able to tenfold. So who is that influencer? Who is that market? What is your market position? Often by asking the right question of a person, you can come up with the solution.
I want you to think about a problem that you have? Who may know someone who knows someone who could solve the problem for you? And who is that person that you’d like to be connected with?
“Who You Know” for Entrepreneurs
If you are an entrepreneur then building your network becomes even more important.
Let’s say, you need some help with a particular software or technology, but you don’t have a technical background. Well if you know good developers or software engineers that can help you out, you will not have to worry about it.
Similarly, if you have a legal problem, you can solve them with a lawyer. If you need funding, you can connect to venture capitalists or angel investors. If you have trouble understanding your financial statements, you can get help from someone who is good with accounting and taxes.
With today’s technology, “who you know” is an easier knowledge base to acquire than you think.
How To Build and Nurture Your “Who You Know” Resources
To be able to build connections with people you have to also focus on “What you know”. Yes, that part is important too. Because what you know and what you are known for are important parts of your personal brand.
When you have knowledge that provides value to others then you are positioned to build a strong relationship with them.
Anyone can build their network, as long as they have the ability to communicate with other people.
LinkedIn is a great tool to connect with different kinds of people in all industries. From CEOs & executives to managers and employees, you can connect with people from different types of roles.
Facebook, Twitter, and Industry-specific online forums have made our lives easier. You can connect with anyone around the world, sitting at your home.
If you don’t like meeting people online or prefer in-person meetings, then events, mastermind groups, and workshops are great places to find new people. However, face to face meeting is still more powerful than any social media platform or Zoom meeting.
Whether you prefer in-person meetings or online networking, you have to start networking and building your “who you know” toolbox. You never know who you are going to meet next, or who is going to drastically impact your life and business.