Perception is Reality and Networking is Everything (Part 1)
Networking is a critical component for success—no matter how you define it.
What your network thinks of you, accurate or not, is reality.
The way your business partners, industry, and colleagues perceive you can have a profound impact on your professional growth—or lack thereof.
Yes, you can make upper middle management by being great at your job. You ordinarily have to be great at your job to be successful.
But do you want to run the place?
You want to be partner at your VC fund, accounting firm, law firm? You want to make MD? Ready to take over the CTO gig?
That has nothing to do with how great an investor you are, whether you know your debits and credits, if you’re the best contract drafter in the world, or whether you can model and pitch book the hell out deals.
Doing the Job is Table Stakes
Successful people know this.
By the time you make senior manager at an accounting firm, associate at a law firm, VP of engineering, or VP at a bulge bank or fund, it’s assumed you know how to do the job. You know how to block and tackle.
If you want to advance beyond this point, being “really good at deals” is meaningless.
You need an amazing network. An authentic one. People need to like you.
But networking matters even if you aren’t relying on someone to promote you.
Founders: Pay Attention
If you’re 29, founded a company, raised a bunch of money, hired a bunch of people, and the company is tripling every year, congratulations! I’m sure people are telling you how great you are all the time.
“Congratulations on your success,” says every VC trying to get into your next round, banker wanting your business, and commercial real estate broker showing you space. Some rocket ship you created.
You have a gaggle of hanger-ons blowing smoke up your ass.
But did you know that your board is working hard behind the scenes to replace you (or buffer you) with “experience” while making it seem like your idea? Yes, they will destroy the company if you aren’t there to hire, inspire, retain, and raise money. They don’t realize this. If they did, fewer high growth companies would get destroyed by their board.
Concentrate on managing that board, your network, and (most importantly) their perception of you. Whatever you think your board (or any other stakeholder in your life) is thinking (or whatever they tell you they are thinking) — they aren’t. They’re managing and talking about you to other stakeholders. They also hook onto very little pieces of information in a short amount of time to make big decisions – so their perception of you and what other people say about you – that’s the board’s reality.
The good news is that you can pretty much manage them and others, generate a well lubricated, successful life and career, and build a foundation for how everyone thinks of you. Just build as many quality relationships as you can.
Just Be Authentic and Network
People will embrace it — and the ones who don’t? They have their own problems, I can assure you.
I’ve realized that a lot of people don’t know this. Worse, they have no idea how to build quality relationships
They treat networking as a means to an end. Or they’re just bad at it and create an aura of limited authenticity.
For now, know that you need a community, network, and circle of friends regardless of what you’re doing. Next time, I’ll tell you exactly how to network successfully.