Connected: It’s Who Knows YOU

Perhaps this is nothing profound, but the old saying “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know” needs to be revised.

In a world that is so well connected, almost to its demise, it’s no longer who you know, it’s who knows you.

How many people reading this know Linus Torvalds, Bill Gates, Barrack Obama and so on. All of these personas are influential in their field. Thanks to the Internet and various portals within it, we know quite a bit about them, even on a personal level. But who cares who you know. It means nothing.

Do you want to get your ideas out there? Do you want to be criticized? Do you want to have an audience that cares about what you have to say? It doesn’t matter how much you want those things. What matters is that people know you.

The Question

How do you get someone to know you?

Step 1, have something worthwhile to say and say it well.

Choose your words well. People, especially the influential sort, are already weighed down by people who desperately want their attention. However, if you get the chance to be heard and what you have to say is not quickly understood, chances are you would have been better off not being heard at all.

On the other hand, imagine you are somewhere and you encounter someone of influence; suddenly the opportunity to be known presents itself. You have prepared your words well. You present your idea to this person and after a few moments of listening, the person gazes at you with a curious stare; “Hmm, go on, I’m listening.” This person now knows you. They don’t know much about you, but they now know about your worthy idea.

Step 2, keep their attention.

The best way to keep someone’s attention is to throw the ball back; get their thoughts. Pose a question that requires some kind of response. Try to avoid simple questions with built-in answers. For example, if you asked “Do you really like the Dallas Cowboys,” they would respond with a shallow yes or no. However, if you asked “How do you feel about the Dallas Cowboys this year,” you would get a much more revealing reply that would take time to express on their part. Thus, you would have their attention.

On top of that, personal interest shows you are sincerely interested in them and it will tie the knot on your new relationship. Remember, up until this point you really were only having a monologue with an observer. Now you’re having a dialogue. Now you have a relationship.

Step 3, keep the relationship alive.

How do you keep your friendships strong, your marriage fresh, your work environment interesting? You continue to add value to it progressively over time. You might ask a friend for advice, buy your spouse a gift or show your appreciation for a workmate. The goal is to keep the relationship active.

If you’ve ever moved far away, you know how difficult it is to manage a friendship. You begin to separate yourself. Sooner or later, if not nurtured, the friendship becomes alien; you and your friend may find you are no longer able to relate to each other. You haven’t hung out, much less talked or listened to your friend.

I think the point here is, in one way or another, you need to keep the dialogue active. For example, say you met Bill Gates and explained your idea on how small business owners really need to have a way to be more open and real with their clients and how the internet could help. In response, he gave his critiques of the idea and maybe even added some ideas of his own to expand on yours. You now have a relationship. Perhaps he gives you his office telephone number. If you never called him after that initial meeting, he would eventually forget about you. He would no longer know you.

What do you think?

How do you get out there? How do you get people to notice and know you?

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