We have a large extended family. My Dad had three brothers and a sister. Mom had 5 brothers. We were a blue-collar family. When someone was moving they didn’t hire a mover. They called family and everyone showed up to help including us kids. Someone always knew someone who had a truck. The women prepared food for everyone when the work was done. Family members had a lot of skills to help each other. Most important, with a large family came a large network. Dad was a carpenter. He used his skills to help others in the family. When our TV went out, Dad called “Whitey” the friend of a friend. Whitey only charged for parts used, not labor. Dad and Whitey drank a beer together when he finished.
Sometimes we hear, “It isn’t what you know but who you know.” More important, “who knows you”. If you are in business this is essential. Word of mouth, people telling others about you in person or on the internet is some of the best marketing a business can get. My youngest brother is a building contractor for over 30 years. He doesn’t have a website and never advertises. All of his business comes from referrals from the work he has done. He was very busy during the pandemic with more work than he could handle. We need to be good at what we do and be a person of integrity who people can trust.
In business or as an individual your reputation will proceed you. This has always been true. The difference today with the internet is how fast your reputation precedes you. When I was an Oil & Gas Association President we had an important meeting with a key delegate in the legislature. On our way to the meeting Lynnda Googled the delegate. We learned a lot about her. The meeting started with introductions. As I started to tell her about myself she stopped me, “Greg, we know all about you.” The internet works both ways. Doing a background check for a potential date or an employee is as simple as going to Google or Facebook. I caution my grandchildren and soccer players to always think before you post. The world is an open book today with very few secrets.
Cameras are everywhere from cell phones to buildings. We are always on stage. Many crimes are caught on camera. Sometimes the criminals even post them on social media. Go figure. When we make a purchase or do a search our information goes to places we don’t even know. Suddenly associated ads start showing up in our inbox. We are planning a trip. Now I’m getting travel ads. I made a couple of political contributions online in a previous election. Now my inbox is blowing up with ads for candidates all around the country. Opting out doesn’t work. They just change the email they send from.
In business one of our greatest assets is our personal network. I found my network is one of the best ways I can help my clients, prospects, friends and family. If someone has a need, it’s surprising how often I know someone who knows someone who can help. In a previous corporate life, I routinely got calls from customers who had needs I couldn’t fill. I usually knew someone I could refer them to who could help. The customers kept calling me and our business ultimately benefited.
At Shale Crescent USA we actively work to grow our collective network. The larger and more diverse the Shale Crescent USA network is, the more valuable we are to prospects and other people or organizations who benefit from economic development in the region. It’s not who you know, it is who knows you, likes you and trusts you enough to give you their business or a referral. The Ukrainian company we are working with who I mentioned in last week’s column was a referral from an organization we met at a conference in February. At SelectUSA many of our prospects were referrals from the AmChams (American Chambers in countries abroad) who we built relationships with. The
prospects greeted us at SelectUSA with, “We were told we needed to see you,” Most referrals had specific projects they want to bring to the USA. Their initial interest wasn’t sites or economic development incentives. Their priority is making money. Being profitable in the USA. Their focus was finding economical energy and feedstock. We could help them with both because of our network. Energy and feedstock determine where they look for sites. Labor cost wasn’t a major issue because of automation. Labor availability was important. We introduced our prospects to the state economic development organizations who can help them with economic development incentives and sites.
Recently I spoke to the Society of Plastics Engineers in Akron, Ohio where I met a young man who was an account manager for a large company. His COO and I met at a conference last winter. We ran together. They are a solid company and won an award for being one of the 10 best places to work in the industry. After the presentation I was working with a new foreign prospect referred to Shale Crescent USA. They were looking for products this company distributes. I connected them and others in our network to the foreign prospect. Our region will now get jobs from providing raw materials in addition to jobs the foreign prospect will create.
Do people know you, like you and trust you? How big is your network? Zig Ziglar said, “We can have anything we want as long as we first help others get what they want.” Think win-win. Use your network to benefit others. By helping the people in your network to be successful you will find your own success. Your network will become one of your greatest assets. Thoughts to ponder.
Greg Kozera, [email protected] is Director of Marketing and Sales for Shale Crescent USA. www.shalecrescentusa.com (You can follow SCUSA on Facebook) He is a professional engineer with a Masters in Environmental Engineering and over 40 years’ experience in the energy industry. Greg is a leadership expert, high school soccer coach, professional speaker, author of four books and numerous published articles.