Remember the phrase “It’s not what you know, but who you know?” I believe it originated in Hollywood, California as a rule for actors seeking fame. In truth, it can be applied to any industry. Renowned speaker John Maxwell shared in his book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership how Chick-Fil-A CEO Dan Cathy saved him years of networking by connecting Maxwell to his network. That’s certainly a “who you know” success story.
Much time has passed since the phrase originated and Maxwell taught us that our society has evolved from the original concept, because consumers now seek stronger ties with the companies they buy from and are taking a closer look at the quality of work. Dan Cathy connected John Maxwell to his network, but Maxwell had to prove his value. As business owners, we need to prove our value and demonstrate our expertise to consumers. The phrase could now be, “It’s what you know and who you know.”
Speaking of who you know… There is still just as much value from who you know, when it comes to being successful in any field. One of our firm’s core service offerings is positioning business executives and business owners as experts in their field. We use several tactics to showcase their expertise and experience, and help our clients build a strong strategic network. Our most advantageous strategy is aligning the professional with other experts in the field. Here’s the challenge. How do we put their name next to influencers and experts in the industry?
Answer: Lead the initiative.
Every year PR News Online issues several guides to help public relations practitioners polish their skills. One year, I submitted my name and content idea to be included in the Sixth edition of the PR News Crisis Management Guidebook. I was very humbled and excited to be selected. I also was astounded at the work required to create the content. This was a great investment of time for me, but at the end of the day, my name was listed along PR experts from Coca-Cola, T-Mobile, George Washington University and 46 others. I shared the guide as a success story across my channels, and PR News Online touted the guide with, “Fifty of the top crisis experts in the PR field as well as PR News editors contributed hard-earned crisis management wisdom to the latest edition of PR News’ Crisis Management Guidebook.”
Using a version of this same concept, our firm helps professionals align with experts in the field by leading the initiative. Here’s an overview. We begin by identifying some of the biggest challenges facing the industry. Next, we identify and connect with the counterparts for their position at leading local, national and global companies. We show our clients how to be valuable connections and support their network. As the project continues, we will issue a call-for-contributions from our expert contacts and create an industry guidebook or white paper to help others in the field address the challenges. The end product is much more valuable than if we alone addressed the issues. We are capturing the expertise of the industry elite.
We share the end product with those who contributed and others who we want to establish meaningful connections. In the end, we’ve put our client’s name next to leaders in the industry and we have established them as the lead for the project. Even more, we’ve strengthened their relationships with their network contacts. The project is supported by a large-scale public relations campaign to gain the recognition the product deserves.
Our process is carefully planned and implemented. It’s a comprehensive project and requires a commitment from all parties, but the end result is a tremendous return on the investment. This is just one strategy we use for our leadership positioning. If you would like to learn a few more tactics from our toolbox, send me an email.