Okay, right out of the gate, let me torpedo a popular myth: It really isn’t ALL in who you know.
What you know, how you know it, and what you plan to do about those things, matters at least as much. The old “who you know” adage is all about opportunities. And, in that, the maxim is absolutely correct. Your connections WILLL help determine the course of your success, whether you are an entrepreneur, a young professional, or an up and coming corporate climber.
You need to know people if you want to get beyond where you are right now. This concept is more about basic arithmetic than psychology. You can’t move beyond self-imposed limits. Trying to build a business based only on who you know right now will never get you any bigger than the biggest friend you’ve got. You have to expand, to grow beyond your current boundaries. Let’s unpack how you make that happen.
#1 – Strengthen your current positive relationships
Look for the people that are giving you good stuff. The business contacts that are not afraid to tell you the truth, offer you wisdom, and give you great, specific feedback. These are not just the people you like to have beers and conversation with and not just the people who are nice to you.
#2 – Move away from the negative
By negative, I don’t mean critical. I mean the people that are negative for no reason, or offer zero critical input after being negative. Those people you need to jettison posthaste.
#3 – Use that time to meet new people
Invest the time you gain from kicking the Eeyores to the curb in finding and building new, positive relationships. You won’t know their value until after they help you grow, so don’t sell anyone short. Just be open and listen.
#4 – Find out who is doing well where you want to be
This is the first criteria to use when looking for new relationships. Do what it takes to gain their ear, or at least create an opportunity to listen to what they have to say.
#5 – Be sure to have, or develop, new ideas
Successful people will be willing to share with someone who is engaging, competent, and legitimately curious. But they will not tell you everything. Nor do you, really, want to know everything. You don’t want to be them. You want to be whatever comes after them.
You see this last principle over and over again in business. Someone stands on the shoulders of giants and raises the bar that much higher. Then, someone affiliated with those giants finds themselves playing catch up with the “upstart.” But, by then, the upstart is now on his way to legitimacy. That is the person you want to be. The present and the future, not the present and the past.
Ronn Torossian is the founder and CEO of 5W Public Relations in NY and a recognized expert in PR, marketing and brand development.