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It’s who you know as much as what you know

If you learn one thing as you work your way through your career, it’s that ‘who you know’ is as important as ‘what you know’. Who you know can help you become front of mind with mentors, friends, clients, suppliers and new ideas and opportunities. Expanding your spheres of influence by deepening and widening your contact base will enable you to learn new things, create more opportunities to advance your career, your business and even your personal life.

From day one, we all work hard to get more qualifications and yet who you know can catapult you straight to the top of the list and gain attention. You’ve still got to deliver of course! But Mr or Ms who you know, will support, lift, advice, intervene and assist you through stages of your career as well as even possibly, your personal life.

This week, I took on an intern referred from a friend, hired a senior consultant on the introduction of a peer, found a local beautician on the referral from my chiropractor, secured a new client on the basis of a former client’s reference and am about to go on holiday thanks to a personal friend’s recommendation.

Special people almost always want to help others so don’t be afraid to ask. One of the greatest privileges as a business leader is to influence someone’s future for the better, and most experienced senior leaders are happy to help and share their wisdom if you show that you appreciate and are a willing recipient of their guidance, advice and expertise. One of the most valuable lessons you can learn is not to re-invent the wheel. Learn from others who have done what you want to do and save yourself from making the same mistakes.

Finding who you know, shouldn’t be hard.  It is best to utilise the skills and advice of people you respect and who can introduce you to others who share the same core values – and you are likely to respect also. It could be from within your network but is more often someone outside your immediate field.  Networks can be found through geography i.e. local or international chambers, community organisations such as Rotary, through business, university or specific trade and industry related communities.

It is a good idea to take every opportunity to test ideas with others outside the industry you work in and is often by studying or learning about other industries that ideas can be brought across to your own world.

The age old advice “If you want to be the best – surround yourself with the best!’’ stands true, so think carefully about who you spend your time with.

People like to help people and by paying it forward in life, with no expectations of getting a return, the universe tends to sort Karma out. Give everyone your best and let your reputation speak for itself. Personally, I am a big believer in paying it forward in life, or the idea of doing good for others and helping them. To pay it forward and connect others is a great joy and immensely rewarding. Do this early on in your career consciously and others will do it for you, although that of course is never the reason you help others in the first place.

Being openly conscious of who you know, can help find the right people for your company, open up new opportunities, develop your knowledge and spark new ideas –  and most important of all lead to fun and support. The ultimate who you know tip is to keep it genuine, because authenticity in life and business is everything. I don’t want to spend time with anyone who isn’t genuine, do you? So make the who you know process real and part of your business strategy to help you and your company grow.

About the author:

Sharon WilliamsSharon is a pioneer in the Australian marketing and public relations agency industry. She is a CEO, Fellow of the PRIA, international speaker, personal brand expert, entrepreneur, mentor, marketer, media commentator and frequent mainstream editorial contributor. Under Sharon’s leadership and entrepreneurial flair, Taurus is now recognised as one of Australia’s highest profile agencies, offering unparalleled levels of service to global corporations including Advance, UTS:INSEARCH, Appster, Napoleon Perdis and Clean Up Australia.

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Sharon Williams

Sharon Williams

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