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It's NOT About Who You Know...

Have you ever heard the phrase, "It's not about what you can do, it's who you know"? The first time that I heard that was in high school and I thought I believed it, even if I didn't exactly know what it was talking about. Back in high school, I had very little life experience, especially in the area of business and networking; I had never had the opportunity to put this phrase to the test.

Well, I'm an older and wiser person now and I can tell you that this phrase is slightly naive. Or, whoever said it first, didn't fully understand what they were saying. Because what I'm about to tell you is going to challenge what you've heard before and make you think about things a little differently. It's one of those phrases that someone probably said as a part of a keynote speech at a conference on how to get a job. Since then, people just quote it to their friends; parents quote it to their kids, who take it to heart without ever really realizing what their parents are telling them. 

This myth is perpetuated when these same kids grow up and have a hard time finding a job. "It's not about what you can do, it's who you know," their parents remind them as they console their kids' failures. Eventually, they'll know a friend who will pull a few strings and get them a job. Or, more likely, their parents will know someone who will be willing to give their kid an entry-level job somewhere. This kid will get that job and tell their friends, "It's not about what you can do, but who you know," as this will seem to ring true for them in their case.

I have a friend who has been out of work for nearly a year now. This guy is 28, unmarried, friendly, and has some experience with financial statements and accounting. He's been really struggling with what to do: whether he should get a loan, go back to school and get a master's degree (incorrectly) thinking that it will somehow help him in his professional career. He's sent his resume out to hundreds of companies without having anyone in these companies who he knows pulling for him.

So, his problem is that he doesn't know anyone, right?


His problem is that nobody knows him. Notice that this is a big difference.

The phrase should instead go, "It's not about who you know, but who knows you."

Do people know you and do they trust you?

Are there people that call you and ask you about your opinion or your expertise on a certain topic? If not, why not?

Even further, do the right people know you and call you? Do important, decision-making people call you?

I help out with homeless ministries on some weekends—and I'm friends with many homeless guys—but I'm not going to get a job out of them. They don't own companies. They can't give me money.

However, I also know a lot of business owners: people that make the decisions. People that have goals to get more customers and make more money. They ask me for advice on a daily basis and they give me work because I give good advice. I'm friends with them first, and they respect and acknowledge my expertise in these areas.

So, my advice to you is: who knows you? Get to be friends with more decision-makers and they'll give you work.

Tyler Small - Wednesday, October 23, 2013

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