Who you know may not be enough!

I wish I had a dollar for every time I have heard the phrase “It’s who you know that counts.”  While I do not disagree with the overall premise, who you know is important, but not the only thing that you need to consider when networking for a new role, new business or just new connections.  What most will not consider when making this statement is How they know someone, How well then know them, and What type of assistance you might ask them for.  I’ll take some time this morning to further explore each of these points because they are three dimension that play a large role in determining if Who you know is enough.

How you know someone can be described in many ways.  I look back over my life and I remember people I have met in a variety of circumstances.  Listed below are just a few ways you might know someone:

  • school-college relationship or friendship
  • relative
  • family friend
  • working relationship
  • organizational relationship
  • church relationship
  • introduced by a mutual friend

These are just a few I think of at first blush, but each of these has a different level of depth associated with the linkage.  Even each taken individually has variations of how deep the relationship goes.  We will talk more about that in a moment.

How well you know someone takes our first list and it adds another dimension or two to describe the depth of the linkage.  Here are a few ways you can describe relationship depth:

  • amount of time spent together
  • how the time was spent together
    • challenging experience
    • start-up
    • business shutdown
    • merger-acquisition
  • key events worked through together
    • birth
    • death
    • chronic illness or issues

I think you get the picture when you visualize the circumstances listed above.

The third variable is the one that most of us misread.  Not every contact can or should be engaged for a specific need.  I can look back over my life and see times when I might have over-reached in asking a connection for help.  Here are just a few examples of types of help you might ask for:

  • simple introduction
  • introduction to learn more about a job opportunity
  • inquire about a business opportunity
  • research about adding to or removing parts of a business
  • starting a business or closing one down
  • moving a business unit
  • asking for resources of funds

This list goes from more simple to highly complex types of inquirers.  Not every relationship listed above in the first two tables would qualify for some of those listed toward the bottom of the third list.

I hope this initial description provides a starting point for you to consider why who you know might not be enough.  Knowing someone from a college experience 30 years ago might not be enough to approach them about a sophisticated business opportunity or something at that level of intimacy or complexity.

I’ll be back next to describe this model in a more visual and pragmatic sense.

Who knows, we might even devise a model to measure and predict which linkages lead to success in given circumstances.

Until then, have a great day and keep building those connections.