While meeting with a potential client the other day, I was reminded yet again of what a small world we live in .
Our conversation, a mix of business opportunities and war stories, stumbled upon a number of familiar names. Now, this is someone whom I had only met once before this meeting. Yet, here we are finding person after person that we had each worked with, worked for, or personally knew in some context. In all, a 30 minute conversation turned up no less than a half dozen common links, and we weren’t even trying!
This certainly wasn’t the first time I’ve had this experience. Old clients from different companies who have moved to new jobs have landed in the same departments at new companies several times. A former employee, from several years back, is now a client. Two other former clients now work together at another research firm; one works for the other. A colleague and I have been crossing paths in various capacities for 10 years. First as competitors in a very small niche market, then as colleagues at a research firm, now as collaborators each running our own firm. And on and on.
The lesson is that this business, really all business, is about relationships. If you plan to be in a profession for any length of time, the relationships and reputation you develop (or don’t) will make or break you in the end.
Is this an earth-shattering revelation? For most people, no.
Is it something that most of us need to pay more attention to? Yes.
A quick trip to Amazon or any bookstore will confirm that one could fill a library with books about how to network and how to build better relationships. In my opinion, one of the best reads in this genre, both in style and substance, is Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi.
Haven’t read it yet? Get it and read it.