By Trey Mebane, President, Chasm Visions LLC
Many of us have heard the popular phrase “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know”. So why is this phrase popular? Is it true?
Most of us can easily agree “what you know” definitely matters – it’s why we go to school and educate ourselves in hopes of earning a decent living or excelling at something we are passionate about. However, we must accept, “who you know” can be a force multiplier when creating value with “what you know”. Who you know can help you land your first job. Who you know can help you solve some of the most difficult challenges you will face. It’s who you know that may introduce you to the love of your life (ok, this last one may be a stretch as we have all know mothers willing to help and internet dating web sites ;-) This said, “who you know” matters, and it’s critical you start considering how you’re going to build, grow and manage your professional network now, not later, but now!
So, who is going to help you in developing your professional network? Is there an elective you can take at the university? The answer is simple, there is no elective, and there is no one else but you who can do this. School has taught you how to study and learn just about anything, and now is the time to apply your learning skills to the problem of developing yourself, and developing your professional network.
Where to start? You need to construct your plan for developing your network; specifically, you need to build your training program for creating, growing and managing your professional network. But don’t worry, there are many tools. After all, if the internet can help us find true love, rest assured it can help you find resources and methodologies for getting started here too. Amazon and Google will aid you with many respected books and articles about professional networking – get at least 1, preferably 3 for comparison. LinkedIn.com is the professional communities networking site of choice, and will serve as your digital assistant in meeting others and helping you to expand your network. And as you may expect, there are multiple resources on how best to leverage LinkedIn and managing the digital you which is visible to the rest of the world.
These tools will help you prepare for reaching out to others; e.g. joining trade associations, establishing new friendships and connections in the form of a professional network, and more. But make no mistake about it, just as you are looking to gain value from the network you are forming, that same network is going to look to gain value from you. So be prepared to return the favor!
You’ll find below this article a link to a presentation on networking. In it you’ll have additional tips and recommendations; however, the bottom line is professional networks can help or hurt you, and it’s critical you learn lessons on managing them now!
Click here to learn more about how to leverage your networking skills!