Its not what you know OR who you know

It’s who THEY know.

I think it’s interesting to reflect on the power of the secondary network. We naturally focus on the people we know (our Level-1 contacts), but let’s not ignore the Level-2’s

Network Levels

Network Levels

Here is a real example, with names changed to protect the innocent. I identified Hugo (via Linked-In) , who I thought would be an ideal customer. It transpired that Hugo was a Level-2, and that he and I both knew Ted. I emailed Ted, and, cutting a long story short, Ted put me in touch with Hugo who eventually became a valued customer. Had I tried to contact Hugo directly, I would have had no chance, as he is already maxed out with un-solicited approaches.

Networking Numbers

Networking Numbers

The “numbers” are interesting. British anthropologist Robin Dunbar, thinks the limit to the number of people with whom we can maintain stable social relationships is roughly 150. Lets (conservatively) estimate that we have, on average, 100 Level-1 contacts. That puts the number of Level-2’s at ten thousand  (100 x 100). If you are looking for people who buy oak furniture, turbo-charge fork-lifts, or make decisions on IT spend, the chances are there are some in that Level-2 community.

A couple of observations:

1) Online : By ensuring that your on-line content has the ability to be shared you effectively allow the people who read it, to advocate it to their Level-1’s (your Level-2’s), which can potentially exponentially increase your exposure.

2) Face to Face : When you next find yourself at a networking event, relax, even if the none of the other people attending look like prospects, some of them could well connect you to prospects. 

One of earliest references to “Not what you know…” was actually said by a Film Director, Mike Cross: “In Hollywood, it’s not what you know but who you know,” adding that the awards ceremony was the perfect place to make connections.

I’m a simple northern lad, so my equivalent of an awards ceremony is probably a breakfast networking event. At the last one I attended I chatted to a nice lady next to the coffee and biscuits. I will probably never be her ideal client, but it’s quite possible that I know someone who could be.