The Real Question: Who Knows You?

We all know the mantra, “It’s not what you know, but who you know.” But the truth is that it’s not who you know, but WHO KNOWS YOU!

Just because you know people, meaning you know they exist and what titles they have, or you’ve met them at an event, or you have a mutual friend, does not mean that person could pick you out of a crowd. You must engage new contacts in a way that makes them remember you…in a good way, of course!

Be Memorable
This advice does not mean you need to do all the talking. In fact, I recommend the opposite. People love to talk about themselves, so learn to ask good questions. If you knew that person would be at the event and were hoping to meet him/her, be prepared to engage with thoughtful questions they don’t get every day. If you have an impromptu meeting with a valuable contact, think quickly and listen carefully. There are always triggers in one story that can lead to another question. And while it’s encouraged to leave most of the talking to them, don’t forget to offer your own two cents when the time is right.

Find Commonality
As with all relationship-building efforts, if you hear a word you’re connected to – dogs, music, children, a mutual friend – dive deeper. Let the person know there’s a common interest and take the conversation to a personal level (although not too personal). For example, I remember if people have dogs more often than I remember if they have children. And it’s a great starter for conversation number two when you meet again!

Follow Up
After a chance or planned encounter, follow up! Request to connect on LinkedIn sending a personalized message reminding the person where you met, and mention one or two items from your first discussion. Don’t hesitate to ask, in a separate message from the initial request, to meet for coffee or lunch to learn more about that person’s business, role or path to success. Again, people love to talk about themselves, so make it about him/her and your success rate on scheduling coffee meetings should skyrocket.

Your Turn
As you build the relationship, you’ll have a chance to tell your stories over time, and by asking meaningful questions, you show your business acumen and sincere curiosity. That’s impressive, will set you apart, and can help you build a tremendous reputation.

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