Success is Not About What You Know but Who You Know
Since little, we have been taught to work hard, to master all sorts of knowledge and skill sets. The school system has been training us to be a good employee, keep shaping us to be a functioning part which may fit into a big machine one day. However, when we grow up, we found out, that is not really the case. Of course, it is important to learn many knowledge and skills, but it seems even more important is to build a good social circle. When we are working for an idiot boss, we start to realize, one’s success does not just rely on what he/she knows but also who he/she knows. Hence we start to realize the importance of building up a business social network.
We all know how Bill Gates is so wealthy and successful, but not many people know what his parents do and how he has been introduced to many big people, including Warren Buffett, since he was very young. A good network for sure will bring people much more opportunities and led him/her to success.
However, everyone has such inner shyness. Without knowing a little bit about a stranger’s background and what he/she is seeking for or offering, we kind feel awkward to reach out and say hi. America is an immigrant country, with people come from around the global. Many people may have the same experience, when just launched to this free land but new place, what we need first is to quickly build up our local social network. We want to know more people in our professional field, so we can get their advice and maybe even an internal referral for a new job. We may need a trust handyman, a roofer or plumber to help us fix the house. However, there are no such available mobile services out there yet. There are some apps like Yelp, but it is more for people to look at some reviews of a restaurant or business, instead of helping people to make contact and networking. There are some apps like Thumbtack, but services like a marketplace, like a middleman, they will try their best to cut you off from making direct contact with the service providers. There are some services like Nextdoor, but it is just for you to join a neighborhood forum, instead of building up a professional network.
When I just moved to my current city, what I did was to attend different meetings and events, so that I can make some new contacts. However, it is not really effective nor efficient. For example, I tried to give many people my business card, but how many people will really keep my card after the event? Then I tried to talk to the people there, but how many people can I actual talk to? Even if the conference might have hundreds of attendees, I still can only talk to a limited number of people. And the worse thing is, after talking to 20 people, I may end up find out none of them were the right people I was looking for. Among those events I attended, there were two of them I liked. At one of the events, besides putting a name tag on us, the event also asked us to put a little colored dot on our name tag. E.g. red for designers, green for business people, blue for engineers, etc. With the little dot, at least it made our social more targeting. There was also another event, where every attendee will stand in a circle, so everyone will speak to the circle, who am I, and why I am here. After such a quick self-introduction of everyone, I could quickly know who I will need to talk individually after.
Luckily, now there is such a mobile app available on both iOS and Android, (app name: Nearal) which allows people to browser professionals around, and with their status showing what are they offering or seeking for. With such information provided, it is much easier for people to make contact, chat with each other, and then maybe schedule a coffee or meet to discuss the potential project. With such an app, it saved me many trips to attend each event, and it helped me overcome my awkward, because each one of us have a virtual “name tag” on us, which has already briefly introduced us a little bit, yet we know each other’s offering or seeking for, so we can have more effective conversation with straight business purpose. Instead of how is the weather like today. With such an app, I start to build my local business network, I start to make more local professional friends, and weaving my network towards success.
Another thing I like about this Nearal app is that it is very mobile and very local. Being local is also so important. Even though I still have many old friends, like my college mates on Facebook, but we do not talk much there anymore. We are living in different areas with different lifestyles and different daily things happening, we may even work in different industries now. Except give a thumbs up when they post their children’s photo, we do not have many common languages now. My life is here, is local, and this is where I need to build up my network; and the locals are who I want to know more, I want to make contact. And these are the people here that will make my life and career here more successful and smooth.