In life you always hear people say, " It's not what you know, its who you know". Well first of all, don't get it twisted. I'd say that knowledge is power, and most people can pick up when you are just blowing smoke up their a$$. So it's advisable to continue the learning process as you move through life. When it comes to the concept of "it's who you know", well that could be questionable in my opinion. I've met many individuals in life who are bright as the sky, have the network of Oprah, but quite honestly, I'd rather have a conversation with a straight man about the new Christian Louboutin Fall line. It's just plain boring. With that being said, I find it extremely important not only to build your network, but also genuinely engage with the people with in your professional and personal communities in order to reach your personal goals and what you define as success.
I know that not everyone is a natural "engager" or "includer" ( Check out StrengthsFinders2.0 ) ,but I am learning more and more that genuine relationships open doors to new adventures and opportunties. The simple introduction and network just isn't enough these days. This goes for both the digital network and the face to face network. People are drawn to passionate individuals with whom they connect with on a much more intimate level than the surface. This connection is not simply made by telling your own story, but it's just as important to listen and learn from those around you. Imagine going through your day and not hearing, reading, or seeing a "feel good" story. These stories are what connect us all as humans. They are what make us feel happy, sad, encouraged and motivated. Stories build relationships and relationships are the key to a fulfilling life in my opinion. As fast of a paced world we live in, we can never neglect or underestimate the importance of human engagement and organic authenticity.
Just recently, a good friend of mine referred me to one of his colleagues who is in the music management business. So we met for dinner and discussed one of his artists who he is struggling to promote on social media and ultimately increase his record sales. Let's name this artist "Ricky Johnson " (that sounds like a country artist right?). Ricky is no Blake Shelton or George Straight, but this guy has legitimately written with A list country singers and has a few unique selling points to his brand. As any one who consults in the digital media/content management arena, my questions revolved around getting to know Ricky's target market/brand, followed by, " So how well does Ricky interact with his fan base and is he genuinely engaged?". His response was, " Oh he hates it and he just won't do it. He's too busy and I'm paying someone to do it for us. But I have also bought about 75,000 twitter followers and Facebook friends and I'm pretty excited about the fan base being built up." I then went to ask him about the first week of record sales since his album had just released. Ricky had sold 20 digital downloads the first week. My mouth almost fell the floor and I again reminded myself of why this concept wasn't working for Ricky....or anyone in the world. I kindly explained to the gentleman that I am a firm believer that quality is much more valuable than quantity and it would be more effective to have 500 Facebook that are genuinely interested vs. spam and non engaged individuals. When your network is inspired and encouraged by your story, don't worry. They will share it, your network (relationships) grows naturally, and your over all value increases.
I unfortunately had to tell the gentleman I couldn't help him or his artist. Especially since the artist is dead set on not interacting with his current and potential fans. Ricky has the talent to succeed, a network of very successful music industry heavy hitters, but unfortunately has zero desire to genuinely communicate with his current fan base and potential fan base. Fan base = loyalty, job security, and income. Sorry Ricky Redneck. I wish you the best of luck.
So as your think about different ways to reach your goals and success as you define it, think about Ricky Johnson. Consider that it is always a plus to have the knowledge/skill/talent because learning and honing your craft throughout life only makes you better. Also consider the network around you could potentially lay the foundation and build a few doors, but how you communicate with others and cultivate meaningful relationships with that network is what ultimately opens those doors to new adventures and opportunities . The beautiful thing about life is that we are given the opportunity to define what the meaning of success is as individuals. We get the opportunity to share experiences and create stories with the people we meet along the way, and if that's all I accomplish in life, well I'd consider myself one extremely successful kick-a$$ woman.