Saturday, October 29, 2011

Who you know

I recently reached what many may believe as only a minor milestone but upon reflection is quite important to me. What was that event? I needed to get more business cards.

Sounds pretty routine but when I stopped and thought about it I realized that it was more significant than I first imagined. It meant that I had managed to hand out my business card to over 1,000 people since the last printing. That’s a lot of people in anyone’s language. Of course it has taken me quite a while to accomplish this but it was much faster than the time before. Why was that? Because I’d learnt a very important lesson.

At my core I’m a technician. I like to build things and solve problem. The issue is in trying to achieve this, other people get in the way. They take away your focus, present you with alternate points of view and generally make things harder. For years I always believed that the better technician I was the more work would come my way as people sought out my superior skills. In some ways this works up to a point but beyond that you need to develop other skills.

The power of any network grows exponentially based on the number of nodes connected. Thus, one fax machine is pretty useless but two connected together start making sense. Continue adding fax machines all connected together and pretty soon they become an invaluable business tool. The same applies with personal contacts. As the old saying goes, ‘it is not what you know, it is who you know’.

Two books that really helped me shape the way I go about networking these days are “The Tipping Point” by Malcolm Gladwell and  “Linked” by Albert-Laszlo Barabasi. In essence, they explain the power of networks and the components that make them up. The challenge was now to start applying those principles to business.

The details of that applications goes well beyond the scope of a single blog post like this. It was the subject of a recent presentation that I gave and I’m happy to pass along a copy of the slides from that presentation IF you connect up with me via Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, etc.  My main argument is that social networking represents a huge opportunity for everyone’s career, no matter what it is. Opinions from people like Seth Godin, Tom Peters and so on just can’t be ignored and I for one have to agree with the statement that it is the one things that has really propelled my business to the next level.

However, social media for business is not a set and forget strategy. It is something that requires settings goals, monitoring and adjusting but the potential leverage it provides is phenomenal. As with most technologies we find available via the Internet, you can take advantage of the huge value of leveraging independent of the financial resources you have.

My new aim is to get rid of the new pile of business cards I now have in even quicker time. How am I going to do that? Take what I have learnt and ramp it up even more. I’d encourage you to do the same and if you ever want to discuss with me your strategy or how I use social networking to maximum effect, you should by now know how to contact me.