It has been said that you can contact anyone in the world by asking a friend who knows a friend who knows someone you want to meet. I’ve run my consulting business on this principle. I call my friends; they call their friends and so on until I have the meeting or advice I need to get my job done.
So I feel it’s important, as you go from place to place and job to job, to keep track of the people you meet and remember their names – a bit like the old saying, “Be nice to people on your way up because you’ll meet them on your way down.”
I used to think this was a funny saying, but in reality it is pure fact. About half of the people I’ve met in my various jobs, I’ve run into later on after the job was done. I may have had to ask them a question, ask them for help, ask to see them, or I may simply have seen them across an airline waiting room.
Unfortunately, as I’ve gotten older, some of my friends have retired, moved away or died so networking has become increasingly more difficult but not impossible.
I’ve learned that if you are stuck on a problem, almost any technology can be learned if you know someone near the source. Or, if you don’t know anyone, you can look in the Thomas Register, an encyclopedia, the library or on the Internet to find the right people to ask.
In my business, I have only a few regular employees at any given time, but I have a network of consultants across the country I can call on when I need their expertise to solve a particular problem. I began “outsourcing” almost 30 years ago!
I’m convinced people really want to share their knowledge with you. For instance, when I needed to know about blood pressure while I was working on a project I simply called my personal doctor and he was very pleased that I thought to ask him. And that’s the way it has gone pretty much with everyone else, too.
Even “important” people, those you might never think to ask, will return your phone call when they know what you want to know in advance; or, they will have an associate call you with the answer to your question, so don’t be afraid to ask.
Likewise, it’s been a practice of mine always to give positive job references to the folks I’ve known and worked with along the way. Some of the larger companies downsized and moved people on so they asked me for a reference. New people have taken over at some of the companies where my friends have retired, so it has become more difficult to get work through my old network but it has paid off for me to have remembered names and treated people well over the years.
Of course, I have also remembered the names of the people who fired me from various interesting jobs, too, but that’s another column!
(C) Copyright 2000 Stanley I. Mason. Syndicated by ParadigmTSA