It’s not what you know — it’s who you know, right? Well, not exactly…

That’s the way I always heard it said, but it never worked. Lemme give you my version of the saying that did work:

“It ain’t who you know…it’s who knows YOU.”

This realization came to me in my earlier days as a drummer when I’d meet the occasional name-dropper. At first, I was really taken by these individuals, saying to myself, “Wow! Man, I gotta get out there…this guy knows everybody, and I don’t know anybody!” But after a while (a long while, sadly) I began to realize that all these famous people that my friends were claiming to know never seemed to reciprocate the sentiment. (Have you ever noticed this?) And so I redefined this idea of ‘who I knew’ as follows: I would only claim to know someone if they also knew me. For example, did we have each other’s cell numbers? Did we talk frequently? (Would they ever call ME first, or did I always have to initiate the call?) Were we on each other’s personal email list? Would we trade Christmas cards during holiday seasons? If he or she got married, would I get an invitation? These are the questions I began asking myself as I reflected on all the people I “knew”.

The good news is that you can immediately begin making these connections…the kinds of connections that actually matter — and not just the ones that sound more like name-dropping than anything else. And you know what it takes? Merely this: reach out and help them. Do something nice for absolutely no reason at all other than to make them happy. You may be asking, “But isn’t there an ulterior motive at work here? Would I really be doing this for them, or me”? Answer: Yes. :~)

I’ll give you a quick example: About a week and a half ago, I was contacted out of the blue by one of my connections on LinkedIn who works at a production company creating car commercials for dealerships all over the country. He heard some of my demos and liked the way I sounded (even comparing me to one of my biggest heroes!) and thought I might be a good candidate for voicing a bunch of spots. He sent over a test script to audition with and off I went. After a couple of rounds, it looked as if I wasn’t the right fit for the kind of voice his clients were looking for.

That might’ve been the end of it. But instead, I referred one of my new Facebook friends — a fellow voice actor who I just knew would be perfect for the job — to my LinkedIn connection. I had my buddy read the same script I auditioned with, and then I sent his voice to my LinkedIn connection. My buddy was hired immediately!

And so despite my NOT getting the gig, I really believe I got a lot more: two new friends who I’m now a bit closer with. Friends who know me a bit more — and hopefully like me a bit more too! Be sincere in your efforts to get to know others…it will make all the difference. Relationships drive business, but it’s difficult to build real relationships when business is the only objective. Do something nice…something personally beneficial for someone else…and watch what happens.

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