It’s Not What You Know, It’s Who You Know – The Power of Networking

Have you ever heard the adage, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know?”  Networking, which is really just building professional relationships, is such a vital aspect of one’s professional life, but an aspect that often goes neglected or ignored.  However, when you make an effort to interact with others in your organization, as well as other professional contacts, you will grow professionally.  Networking motivates you to engage in self-development, helps you to meet new people and learn new concepts and exposes you to more people, including key leaders, in the organization.

So, if building professional relationships is important and beneficial to your career, why do many people avoid it?  Well, some may think they would be perceived as someone who is simply trying to get promoted and not truly sincere in their desire to develop professionally.  Others may just be introverted by nature and setting up a meeting to talk to a leader in the organization whom they don’t know is difficult or downright scary. 

The important thing to remember is that organizations are made of people and the leadership of an organization are constantly considering and deciding who will be placed in higher levels of responsibility.  The more people you know in an organization and the higher regarded you are in your company, the better.

In my nearly 10 years of business experience, I have seen many people grow professionally and advance their careers because of relationships they built in the organization.  Much of the time, it really is about who you know.  Think about it – in your own career, how much more willing are you to interact with and promote those you know?

You may be thinking, “Well, I’m just going to work hard and let my performance speak on my behalf.” Please hear me say, performance is absolutely a vital element to progression in a company.  Really, it’s the catalyst to being considered in leadership succession planning meetings, but I have personally participated on numerous meetings where employees were being considered for promotion and I have seen decision makers decide to pursue those they “knew” and not pursue those they didn’t. 

No matter where you are working, either in the military, in commercial business or in other industries and career fields, take action today!  Reach out to a leader in your organization and ask for a 30-minute meeting.  Likely, this person will be flattered that you asked, impressed that you are taking an active role in your professional development and more than willing to offer advice. 

Referencing a few concepts from Dave Carnegie’s book, “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” here are 3 tips to remember when meeting someone new: 

  1. Smile!  A genuine smile says a lot about your attitude. Remember that when you are meeting people, especially for the first time, a smile speaks louder than anything you say.
  2. Be genuinely interested in those with whom you are meeting.  Remember, growing your professional network isn’t just about getting ahead in your company.  It’s about growing professionally, expanding your knowledge by listening and learning, and growing your professional relationships. 
  3. Be a good listener and encourage others to talk about themselves. One of the best ways to do that is to be prepared to ask good questions and learn what has made them successful.

Best of success building your network,
Pete Van Epps