In Monday’s newsletter, I published a story about how I landed every single one of my jobs. It was from my network of friends and colleagues if you haven’t yet read it.
After reflecting on that a bit, I wanted to give an example of an unusual way I connected with a powerful person who was responsible for more than one of my job referrals.
Backing up for a moment, reminded me about Malcolm Gladwell’s book, “The Tipping Point.” In the book he classifies three different types of people: Connectors, Mavens and Salesmen (ahem, should be salespeople, Mr. Gladwell). He then gave an exercise to list all the important people in your life that you met through someone else. The task was to write down the person’s name and who introduced them to you. After that, if relevant, you wrote the person’s name on top of theirs who introduced you to them.
As an example, I met George through Tiffany. And I met Tiffany through Hilary. And I met Hilary through Lilah. Lilah was the beginning connector. I met Dennis through John who I met through my boyfriend, Peter, who worked with Hilary, who I met through Lilah. There’s Lilah again.
What was the point of this exercise which I completed? To show who the connectors are. Unbelievably, almost every important person in my life was traced back to one person. One person! That’s pretty incredible. Of course my friend was not just a connector, but a super duper connector.
The idea of contacts and networking to get jobs is brought into focus with this exercise. It’s not that you have to be a connector, but you should recognize who your connectors are and treat them well.
Sometimes you make your own connections. Maybe at a local coffee shop or joining a networking group. At a certain point, I made my own strong connection at my first job after I moved back to California.
I was the controller for an apparel company that was financed by and in partnership with their Chinese factory. They were making silk boxer shorts and selling them to mass merchandisers, namely Target. As the controller, I had to find an accounting firm to do our year end financial statements and tax returns. I found a great candidate. They were a medium-sized firm in Los Angeles that specialized in the apparel industry.
As a controller, I like to find at least three or four options and quotes for any task. I met with three other firms and made my recommendation to the owners. They wanted a Big Six accounting firm (yes it was that long ago when there was actually a Big Six), and so I chose Ernst & Young. They were good, of course, but they cost twice as much as the firm I originally wanted.
I called the firms that did not get the bid. I explained that we passed on their quotes. My first choice I called and talked to the partner I had met with. I told him the truth, that he was my choice but the ownership wanted a Big Six firm. I disagreed with them, but it wasn’t my final decision. I appreciated the time he spent with me and if I found myself in the same position in the future, I would love to work with him.
He was quiet for a few moments. He then explained that I was the first one who ever took the time to explain why they weren’t hired. The situation always required him to call the potential client. I know he appreciated it because when another of his clients needed a CFO, he recommended me for the job. I got that job. And he became a friend who recommended me for other positions over the years.
In closing, figure out who your main connectors are. Whenever you meet new contacts, always treat everyone with respect. You never know when they could be in a position to help you.
Originally published at https://www.linkedin.com.
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Stories and snippets of wisdom from Cynthia Wylie and Dennis Kamoen. Your comments are appreciated.