But if we open our minds a little more, it is apparent that there are so many ways in which trying to make sure that you know the right people really can help you make those next steps, whatever they may be.
There is absolutely no doubt that knowing the ‘right’ people can help in business. If you have a good, broad range of contacts then there is of course a much higher chance that you will know someone with the skills or knowledge that you are looking to access at any given time. And if you do not know anybody directly then there is still a very good chance that one of your contacts will know someone, and that they can introduce you. And a warm introduction is a hundred times more likely to be taken seriously than a cold call.
If we look at this from a numerical perspective, then the numbers are even more persuasive. If we as an individual have 100 close contacts in business, and each of those also have 100 close contacts, that instantly gives us access to 10,000 people that we have access to. If that number is 250 for us and each of our contacts, then potentially we have access to over 60,000 people.
Many of us have thousands of contacts on LinkedIn, and if you follow the same principle then that very quickly opens up possible introductions to millions of contacts. I would not suggest that that is likely in reality, but knowing the right people, either directly or indirectly, starts to look rather different. I would also be the first to advocate that it should be about the quality of contacts and the joint desire to assist each other, rather than simply a numbers game. Quality over quantity will always serve you best.
But how are the direct contacts obtained in the first place? The simple answer is networking in all its many forms. Pre-Covid, direct networking was often at seminars, events, or specific networking meetings. During lockdown, all of these events moved online to webinars and virtual events, and whilst these lack the personal touch, they certainly open up the geographic restrictions of all having to physically be in the same place at the same time. It is inevitable that post-covid will see a return of face to face events as people hunger for direct contact, but it is also certain that the number of online events will also be higher than they ever were before we all had to adapt. As such, there should be more opportunities to network more widely, at more diverse events, than ever before.
However, networking is about so much more than simply attending events, whether in person or virtually. In business, every conversation that you have, and every way that you maximise the visibility of you and your business, is an opportunity to extend your network of contacts and the group of people that you know. All of this does of course take time and effort, but it can be crucial to the potential success of your business and there is no doubt that in this, as with so many things in life, the harder you work, the luckier you will get.
So, when it comes to ‘who you know’, think less about old school ties and being born to privilege or connections, and think much more about networking, building your own contacts, and helping each other to make those important next steps.
23rd March 2021
in British English