“Who You Know”
“Who you know, not what you know”. I have always hated that this saying is true in most places, the dietetic industry is no different. I have discussed this a few times this week with others.
Up until recently I have really known a sparse few people in the industry (I am like 6 years deep). I’m an introvert by trade, never felt comfortable going up to random people at uni/conferences/events/meetings/anywhere. Still don’t really (although I’ll happily talk to anyone who comes up to me). So knowing people was never something that I had access to, nor has played a part in my success.
I think “who you know” can be enormously powerful. I have no doubt that it can help project your career forward quicker. But I’ve been noticing, as LinkedIn gains popularity (and it goes for all social media), a distinct failure of many to be genuine when attempting to make these connections and build relationships on this medium. Maybe it is just me that gets frustrated by this? As I have always been someone who analyses every single thing, every single person, and sees the true intent or meaning of an individual, of a single piece of communication, or a series.
“What you know” might be a slower route, but it’s definitely the route I have taken. Slow, progresive, but with purpose, and then people start to notice you. Your knowledge, your skills, your achievements and you as a person. “What you know” ends up leading you into the “who you know” world. Someone knowing who you are and what you are about and this only speeds up the strength of a relationship because THEY noticed YOU. Rather than what I see many doing; peppering posts, inbox or phone with messages hoping they notice you, or give you the leg up you seem to desperately need. Sure, I think you could do both. But it all comes down to intent and authenticity.
At the end of the day I can look back and be happy with the path I chose. And the thing I like most about it, is that I have stayed true to myself and never “fake” communicated with someone for the purpose of propelling my career. I have never wanted anything for free, nor received it; I’ll work to get what’s mine. I want that achievement all to myself.
Just this week I met with someone big in the dietetic industry who has been vastly successful within and outside of the industry in business. They could very well offer a lot of value to me but when asked “what can I do for you”, I had nothing. I didn’t need anything, more importantly I didn’t want anything. That wasn’t the purpose of having a meeting with them. I honestly just wanted to take them up on their offer to catch up after they heard me speak on business at the Sports Dietitians Australia conference last year. Maybe that connection will lead to something in the future, but I think having no expectations, not asking and building a stronger relationship first is only going to be long-term ROI positive. For me, there is no other path I want to take.
In an ever increasingly noisy world, and as LinkedIn gathers popularity, it is interesting to see how people are connecting with others and how they are communicating. You can quickly tell who’s faking it for the progression versus who’s genuine. I challenge you to make connections with zero expectations; to provide value first. I challenge you to focus on building “what you know”, and then you’ll thank me once you see who takes notice when you are riding your own wave, instead of trying to ride theirs.
Managing Director | Sports Dietitian