“It’s not what you know, but who you know that matters.” This is very popular saying in the business community. While it’s not absolutely true that the connections you make are more important than the knowledge you gain, there are definitely times when having the right people in your network can help you get ahead professionally.
Maybe you meet a mentor who is willing to share the tricks of the trade, ultimately saving you a lot of time and aggravation as you move forward in your career. Or perhaps it’s a client who refers you to several other people, growing your business by leaps and bounds.
The amazing thing is that you never know where the next amazing connection will come from. Most of us look for it in the people we do business with on a day-to-day basis, but sometimes we find life and career-changing people in the places we’d least suspect.
I was on a flight to Dallas recently and was speaking to the guy sitting next to me on the plane. He was an investment banker at a large firm, and he told me he absolutely loves what he does. Just totally loves his job and wouldn’t want to do anything else.
Of course, that’s one of the main lessons I teach in my seminars, workshops, and speeches – the importance of having passion for what you do – so I was super happy for him. At some point, he asked what I did and, when I told him, requested my card, saying, “I may have a use for you in my firm.”
If I hadn’t had that conversation, the connection wouldn’t have happened. If I hadn’t opened the door and talked to this guy, giving him the opportunity to share with me what he loved most about his work, I wouldn’t have gotten the chance to speak to him and his group.
Does every connection result in a happy ending, one where you get tons of work and improve your professional outlook forever? Of course not. But what happens if you miss an opportunity that could have changed your life? One that could have changed your trajectory and placed you on a more satisfying path?
We never know who our next important connection will be, when we’ll meet him or her, or where the conversation may lead. However, if we open the door and give it a chance, at least we’ll know we didn’t miss out.
Now, I’m not saying you should start a conversation with everyone and anyone around you with the goal of seeing what the other person can do for you. That’s not genuine and not likely to get you anywhere, just as it wouldn’t if someone were to do it to you. All I’m suggesting is that you be willing to talk to and connect with others. Don’t inadvertently miss out on what may be a meaningful contact.
It’s possible the other person may not open doors for you – you might give them an opportunity instead. Maybe they have skills you need in your life, and your meeting will give them the chance to do some work for you. Either way, everyone wins.