By Lyneka Judkins, CEO at Forward Solutions, LLC
We have heard it many times, “It is not what you know, but it is who you know”. Though I am not entirely convinced that what you know doesn’t play a part in ultimate success, I can agree that who you know is a critical factor. I have found that who you know will open the door and is the ultimate catalyst for success. The who you know will connect you to the right people, provide insight and advice, mentorship and be an advocate for you in your business journey.
So how do you get to know the who you know? People often think there is a secret society that few are privileged to in order to be afforded the opportunity to know the ‘who you know’; it is a club where you need to know the secret password to get in. Nonsense.
Knowing the ‘who you know’ is an intentional act of building relationships with the right people in your industry. Establishing one key relationship often leads to the introduction of another and so on. Here are some tips I have found to be effective in building relationships with highly successful individuals in my industry:
- Change Your Mindset– This is critical. You cannot play with the big boys (or girls) if you do not see yourself as one. People often feel really intimidated by highly successful people; they become timid and shy away from interaction. That won’t work. You have to be confident and know that you equally belong among them; carry yourself in such manner and you will be treated as such. People will always treat you as you treat yourself.
- Be Where They Are– Despite the transition to an almost completely social media world where your ‘friends’ are people whose request you accepted on your social site, real relationships are still built in person. If you want to know the ‘who you know’ you have to be where they are. Sure, the relationship can start on social media, but it has to be built in person. Find out what events the person is planning to attend, speaking engagements, charity events, conferences, etc. and be there.
- Don’t Be Weird– When the opportunity presents itself to introduce yourself, don’t be weird. People tend to get obsessive, super chatty, super complimentary and all of that is just weird, not to mention awkward. They are ordinary people just like you and they appreciate other ordinary people. They respect people who are confident enough to just be themselves. My rule of thumb is to limit the accolades to one simple sentence.
- Ask Questions– Asking questions is an acknowledgement that you respect and value the persons expertise. Most of the time, highly successful people started right where you are and they appreciate when their hard work is acknowledged and their expertise valued. In return, they are often welcoming to help and give you their time because 9 times out of 10, someone helped them get to where they are.
- Don’t Always Talk Business– First, because they honestly get tired of it. Second, this is not about you and what you can offer or what product you are trying to sell; you are trying to build a relationship and the way you do that is getting to know the person, not their work.
- Add Value– Do not just be a leech. No one likes leeches. Do not show up and try to suck everything you can out of the opportunity. Relationships are built bidirectional. You will only get out of it, what you put into it. Therefore, you have to water the relationship, contribute to it, add value; bring something to the table, do not just show up and eat.
They say more business deals have been closed on the golf course than any boardroom. Why? Because people want to do business with individuals they trust and that trust can only be established through a relationship.