Relationship Building: It’s Who You Know AND What You Know

by Ken Mueller on March 10, 2014 · 3 comments

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When it comes to getting hired, getting promoted, or getting business from someone, we often cite the old dictum:

It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.

The idea is that good connections are more important than any sort of specialized knowledge. And there is some truth to this. In fact, doing business on social media is predicated on this concept. Platforms like LinkedIn are built on the premise of using your connections to connect with others. And of course the word of mouth nature of Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms is also based on the same concept.

But who you know can only get you so far.

The other day a friend introduced me to another of her friends with the idea that the two of us might hit it off. She knew we were both writers and both had media backgrounds. The other guy is a local food columnist, and when we were introduced, I recognized his name. As we chatted, I mentioned my background in radio, and he mentioned he had a similar background. He even mentioned that he worked closely with Larry King on Miami radio in the early 1970’s. When I heard that, the gears started turning in my head, and I blurted out that it must have been WIOD, the “Wonderful Isle of Dreams.” Sure enough, I had it right because of my knowledge of radio history, and we went from two guys having a conversation, to actually building a stronger bond.

I’m an avid reader, and I have a very wide range of interests. As a result, when talking to someone, it’s usually not hard to find some sort of common interest over which to make a connection and talk about. When I work with clients, I jump in and try to learn as much about their business as possible. I like to be well rounded. Sure, there are a lot of subjects I know nothing about, and plenty I only know a little bit about, but there are quite a few topics which I know just enough about to get a discussion going. And once someone knows you’re on common ground, they open up. You have a bond which didn’t exist just moments before. And if you know just a little, and they know a lot, it allows you to ask them questions and gets them to open up and tell you their story. It allows them to share their knowledge and expertise with you. The ability to do this is empowering for them, and great possibilities are opened.

So, yes, it is who you know. If it weren’t for my friend, I never would have made this connection. But if it weren’t for WHAT I know and what he knows, that connection would have been nothing more than a routine meeting. It’s what we knew that allowed us to connect.

Read. Learn. Find out about the things that interest you, and the things that interest others. You’ll be surprised at the results.

 Relationship Building: Its Who You Know AND What You Know
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3 comments
Lynne Ostrowski
Lynne Ostrowski

Both. But the art of how to get to know the "who" -- and have them value you as a resource -- should never be underestimated. That will give the "what" a lot more punch!

Scott Tyson
Scott Tyson

Most definitely both. It was a part of our getting record deals with 2 different labels. Of course if we totally sucked it would have not worked out

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