It's Not Who You Know...

by Joseph Kwon in


As a friend and colleague, I struggle against various afflictions - Savior Complex, Narcissism and perhaps my gravest offense, Verbal Diarrhea. One day I was having lunch with a mentee who had just been promoted. We were discussing challenges related to this new role. This flowed into a conversation about the sometimes elusive nature of career opportunities. As I listened, I was doing my best to resist the urge to jump in with my two cents. I'm glad I did because I heard some brilliant advice and immediately declared my intent to appropriate it as my own. When it comes to opportunities, "It's not who you know, it's who knows YOU." In other words, behind closed doors when the decision-makers are deciding who to give a certain responsibility, do any of those people know you? And equally as important, what do they know about you?

To maximize the chances that the people making the decisions know you, don't be a chameleon, use more cowbell, and channel Shakespeare.

1. Be yourself. Don't try to be someone else. When most people try to put on an act, it is painfully obvious or at best, seems odd and is off-putting. For the few chameleons among us who are adept at playing a role, the trade-off is it is tiring. By being yourself, the parts of you that shine through naturally will resonate more with people.

2. Be memorable. Unfortunately, it's not enough be yourself if no ones remembers you. The first American spies in WWII trained by the British were taught to be average in appearance and behavior to better move about unnoticed. If you want to be memorable, it helps to stand out in appearance or behavior. Having a hook or marker helps trigger people's memory of you. It could be a article of clothing, a hairstyle, or a way of speaking. Imagine for a moment that Christoper Walken wasn't a famous actor and you had a brief conversation with him at holiday party. Chances are because of the way he speaks you would remember him easily in the future.

3. Be a bard. Tell interesting stories that illustrate who you are and your value. Context is everything. An accomplishment means nothing without the feeling behind it.

Remember, don't be a chameleon, use more cowbell, and channel Shakespeare. Follow these 3 EZPZ steps to make sure the right people know you. One day, it may open up some doors that would have otherwise been closed.


Next post next Saturday, 6:30 a.m.