I have spent a lot of time learning about how to effectively network and the benefits that it can bring to my life and career. What I find interesting, however, is that there is a negative connotation revolving around the good ol’ boy club which networking seems to relate to. Everyone has heard the saying, “it’s not what you do, it’s who you know,” referring to success in your career. This implies that having a relationship with a large number of people can bring success, even if your performance is sub-par.
What makes this interesting is that I have never heard someone discourage networking or turn it into a label for someone who is trying to brown nose their way to the top. I think that we can clarify the issue with a new saying.
It is not who you know, it is how you are known.
Expanding your presence in your communities and building a personal brand is important for becoming known. Once you have a brand you do not necessarily succeed, though. There are strong brands and weak brands out there. What becomes important is what you are known for. Are you known for; fast delivery, high quality, your knowledge, a specific specialty, etc?
Connecting with people is your way of bringing your presence to their attention but this does not breed success on its own. With their eyes trained on you, be ready to be weighed and measured.