One of the most important things I have learned in my career is networking is king. The level of success you reach will likely be determined by your network. As a technical recruiter my livelihood is 100% dependent on my ability to establish and maintain relationships. This concept is critical in my field but it can/should be applied by all, both professionally and personally.
If we are looking for a job, someone to hire, a specialist in any field, or a companion we often turn to our network first. How many of you have found a job, were afforded a rare opportunity or were introduced to your significant other because of someone you know? This means we should treat every neighbor, teacher, student, barista, waitress, stranger etc. as a future potential customer, employer and/or friend. Who knows if/when your paths will cross again either directly or indirectly. This is especially important in a small city where six degrees of separation suddenly becomes two to three. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen a hiring manager reject a potential candidate because of a negative reputation or how many times I have elected not to work with a candidate/client because of the way he conducted himself.
A few great examples of the power of relationships include Microsoft creator Bill Gates, Nike founder Phil Knight and the University of Oregon’s head football coach Chip Kelly. Bill Gates’ relationship with his computer club members in middle-school eventually led to him having access to the University of Washington computers where he became one of the few advanced programmers in the world. This rare opportunity laid the foundation for Microsoft.
Phil Knight forged a relationship with Mr. Onitsuka in Japan which secured Tiger brand shoe distribution rights for the western United States. Additionally, Phil’s relationship with Bill Bowerman (University of Oregon track coach) led to his endorsement of the shoes, the development of Blue Ribbon Sports which eventually became Nike and the rest is history.
After leading the Oregon football team to a national championship appearance and subsequent Rose Bowl victory, Chip Kelly was offered a lucrative opportunity to become the head coach of the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers. His departure could have been a devastating blow to a program who had reached unprecedented success under his leadersihp but in the end he elected to decline the offer and remain at Oregon. His reason for staying, the relationships he built with the student-athletes, the coaches and the other staff.
Will all of us build billion dollar relationships that lead to successful empires like Microsoft/Nike or reach an elite level of coaching? Probably not, but we should approach each and every one as if it will. Your network is king.