You’ve heard people say it before, and undoubtedly, you believed them. “It’s all about relationships”. Hey, that’s so fun to say! Absolutes are fun, I know, but they’re dangerous.
It’s not ALL about relationships. More importantly, it’s really not ALL about that saying, so stop listening to it.
The Chris Brogan Parable
Imagine a scenario where you’re Chris Brogan. You’ve built a network of 500,000+ people who love you. Suddenly, you get thrown into a movie dream sequence where your brain is wife-swapped with a room-temperature IQ primate from some slum in Detroit.
How long will Brogan’s contacts carry him? Chris will quickly, and vocally, be outted for having jumped the shark. Once he bombs his next few speaking engagements, his reputation will crumble. Videos will hit the internet. 1938 Media will peel into him. He might have a bed to sleep in and a 50kish job for the rest of his life based on name value alone, but his relationships will only take him so far.
YOU Are the Thing That Matters
Our relationships are built on YOU. The skills, the charisma, and the enjoyment YOU bring to the table. Your business contacts and your friends won’t engage with you unless you are seen as a person of value. How this value equation is concocted comes from a multitude of places, and sometimes, much of it comes from the ability to smile brightly and be likeable.
Success Can Come Without Much of a Network
I know you’ve used the internet, though. Many of these “success stories” are social duds, and their Twitter feeds are the text equivalent of nails on chalkboard. In short, they’re annoying. How in the world did they become so popular and rich and networked?
They SUCCEEDED. That was part of their value equation. At some point, their negative quality of being a social idiot was outweighed by the fact that their business network now viewed their success as an overriding factor – yeah, you’re worth a drink and an annoying four hour conversation – as long as you introduce me to that sick affiliate, or the Fortune 500 CEO.
This social pariah got additional benefit from his network, sure, but much of that network built from his personal success, which was built through hard work. Other people leveraged their social skills, and less of their business skills, to reach a similar level.
Those who did both, prospered beyond belief.
The point? Develop your skills. Increase your value, both socially AND in the workplace. When people say “It’s all about relationships”, they’re implying that you could build an entire empire based on your ability to be social alone. Yes, the relationships do tons for you, but the important thing to grab from this is the viewpoint that the idea of “relationships” is not formulated on your ability to talk to someone and hold a conversation – it’s formed from you being a skilled, valuable person.