Who Do You Know...? (Spoiler Alert! Networking isn't about YOUR needs)
As I work with clients in all industries, from manufacturing to service, health care to distribution, there continues to be one prevalent theme…WHO DO YOU KNOW? The old adage of it’s not what you know, but who you know, is as timely as ever. This has and continues to be the case in job hunting, but it doesn’t stop there.
Do you ever have questions come up in your business and it’s determined that no one internally has the answers? Some of those questions are typical business questions that your attorney, accountant, or bank can help answer, but what about more of the operational and sales challenges, as well as some of the best practices happening inside and outside your industry? Maybe you’ve recently had someone leave your organization and now you have a significant gap. Have you truly identified the gap and what needs to happen moving forward? Leaning on your own knowledge may not give you the answers.
When I began consulting over 13 years ago, I was not very well networked. I began connecting with other professionals who I believed could provide guidance as well as introductions to others that were well networked and/or people who were just good to know. What I quickly learned about engaging in this process is this: it wasn’t about what they could do for me, but what I could do to help them. Although my consulting practice is entirely based on changing lives by transforming businesses, I originally missed the key principle of good networking. I needed to figure out how I could help others achieve their goals, and in so doing, they would help me achieve mine. As with all networking, you learn quickly who is truly networking for mutual benefit and who is networking for purely self-gain.
Running a business today is more difficult than it has ever been. People who are in business for strictly self-serving purposes will not sustain themselves long-term. On the other hand, those who are looking to learn and grow and contribute to the success of others, while in pursuit of their own success, will have a bright future.
The complexities we all face in doing our jobs, running our businesses, and dealing with the internal and external factors that impact our ability to succeed, can’t be addressed independently. The need to be connected to those inside and outside your industry in order to learn and grow from their experiences, best practices, and to network with their network, are all advantages that you can gain for your personal and business success.
How many individuals do you know that are currently looking for work? How many do you know that are looking to make a career change? How many young people just entering the working world could you help achieve their goals? None of us got to where we are today without the help of others. I can name several people who have had an impact on my personal and professional growth, and ones that I would do anything for. None of us can afford to be short-sighted and believe that we have all the answers. In fact, I’ve learned that leaders who know the most are often the ones who feel they know the least, because they are perpetually learning and growing.
Go outside of the walls of your business and join a professional organization such as EO (Entrepreneur’s Organization), Executive Agenda, or Vistage, or become involved with a non-profit as a volunteer or Board Member. When others reach out to you to connect, say yes. It’s the relationships that you build that will allow you to grow both personally and professionally. You never know when they can and will be a resource to you and you to them. Being successful in business is all about being the best in your chosen field. None of us is as smart as “all” of us…make sure your “all” is both broad and deep, and you will reap the rewards.
Jayne McQuillan, CPA, MBA, Certified Exit Planning Advisor (CEPA) is the owner of Journey Consulting, LLC