In the spirit of challenging conventional wisdom, I have decided to take on yet another quote – “It’s not what you know, but who you know.” And most would agree, without a shadow of a doubt. Whether you are looking for a job, trying to sell a product, get new customers, build a business, you’ll hear people telling you:”It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”
While it is true that the relationships that you build are more important than the knowledge you have in your head, the quote has become increasingly inaccurate. The tricky part about conventional wisdom is: There’s always an element of truth in it, but as time goes by, it becomes irrelevant or incomplete.
So what’s missing? The key to this equation lies in the relationship part. I’m sure you’ll agree that a relationship goes both ways (especially if you’re reading this with your significant other), so “who you know” is not enough. Heck, I know Osama Bin Laden. So what? He’s dead. But that’s beside the point. What I’m trying to say is, a one sided relationship is insufficient.
It’s not what you know, or who you know, but who knows you.
Scenario 1: Your uncle is the Managing Director of a MNC. You are looking for a job and there’s and you hear there’s an opening and hopes that he would slot you in. It should be easy for him to do so, right? Come on, you’re family, that’s great connection right there and you definitely know people in the right places. But what would the board of directors think? What would his peers think? What would his boss think? What effect will it have on his credibility as a MD?
Scenario 2: You are 1 out of 5 businesses competing for a 3 year contract from a customer. You’ve met her once, had a couple of drinks, exchanged business cards but you don’t know if she even remembers you at all. What are the chances of you getting that contract?
It’s not who you know, but who knows you.
So how do you get your name out there? It would’ve been harder in the past, but social media has changed all that. Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, LinkedIn, these are all tools that you can utilize to help promote your brand. Then again, tools are only tools. Without content, valuable content, you will not go very far. Write about your passion, work the hours, put in the miles, create value for your readers, give them a reason to come back. Be the subject matter expert at what you do best, and people will take notice.
David Burela is living proof. David is a long time friend, teacher, Silverlight guru, and all round nice guy. He was the key figure in the only Australian team to have joined Microsoft’s Imagine Cup and won the whole thing. Dave probably didn’t know that he’d get a book deal when he started his blog 4 years ago, but life has a way of catching you off guard, doesn’t it? When a publisher ran a Google search on Silverlight blogs in Australia and his name came up as the first hit, they got in touch. Did Dave know the publishers? Probably not. But did they know him? You bet.
Bad Company’s message to fellow entrepreneurs:
Who knows you?