On my desk is a decorative box that’s full to the top with business cards. I’ve collected them at casual encounters, ASJA conferences, and speaking engagements over the past several months. I have a business card scanner, mobile business card application, and a human assistant, any of which could help me get those names into my contacts list. I haven’t bothered because, deep down, I know most or all will come to nothing.
In short, there’s a difference between knowing someone and knowing someone — and most networking advice falls flat because it fails to make this distinction.
People do business with people they know, like and trust. Companies don’t make decisions, people do. Your professional network can open doors for you that otherwise could not be opened. For better or for worse, it’s not just what you know or are capable of doing, it’s who you know, that’s important for career advancement and business development. You can also learn a tremendous amount from people in your network who have experience and expertise.