Advertising
Advertising

Why “Who You Know” Beats “What You Know”

Why “Who You Know” Beats “What You Know”

Think for a second about how most first-world education is set up: it’s often about what you know, meaning the quantity of concepts. This is often why students ask “Is this on the test?” They want to be sure about what they know: is it the right mix of what they are supposed to know?

Even outside of school, students are often encouraged to read more and pick up new skills. It becomes increasingly about quantity. It can lead to a culture of overscheduled kids and anxious parents.[1]

Tony Robbins and Tim Ferriss have addressed this in a podcast episode: there are achievement cultures and fulfillment cultures.[2] Achievement cultures are focused on quantity of tasks or goals achieved; the number matters more than almost anything else. Fulfillment cultures can be more about personal contentment, growth, happiness, etc. — and less about hitting a specific number.

America and many first-world countries are largely achievement cultures, so we focus a good deal on what we know. What if that’s the wrong approach?

Advertising

Why “who you know” matters more

What about knowing more people? And what about knowing the right people?

    Dealing with other human beings is a huge part of what most of us do, whether you work in a call center, sell real estate, or create marketing solutions for small businesses.

    How we get along with others is often the greatest indicator of success. Reed Hastings, the CEO of Netflix, has even warned other leaders of hiring “the brilliant jerk” — someone who does well on paper with goals and numbers, but has limited likability and alienates teammates.[3]

    Advertising

    The bottom line is that people around you affect you: they can make you happier, healthier, and more successful — or the opposite. Based on the research from Nicholas Christakis at Yale, most of this influence is passive and gradual. You may not even notice it as it’s happening.[4] But over time, you become a reflection of those you spend time with. Understanding who is in your immediate network, and whether they’re a good addition or toxic, is important.

      At a deeper professional level, one of the more successful connectors and networkers in Silicon Valley — a huge business hub right now — is Adam Rifkin, and he organizes 106 Mile Meetups once a month.[5] These have become premier technical events for engineers and coders, and often people get new jobs directly from these events.

      It’s more about who you know — and making sure those are the right people — than what you know.

      Advertising

      How to get to know the right people

      There are a million articles online about better networking and first impressions, so we won’t go down those routes. You’ve probably heard a lot of that advice about eye contact and only discussing yourself 20% of the time (most people flip this and discuss themselves 80% of the time).

      Instead, consider some of these approaches:

      • Thank the people around you. This shows appreciation for their efforts, and you also remind yourself how blessed you are and feel better in the process. Hearing “thanks” from others genuinely strengthens most relationships.
      • Give more than you get. In fact, trying to “take” (get numbers and job offers, etc.) in a networking context is much more of the failure path because no one likes a taker who never gives. Be the person who gives of him/herself at events and offers to help others or find resources. Most will remember and when it’s time for the opposite to happen, you have connections.
      • Ask for help, share thoughts. In short, be social. Connect. Discuss. Exchange ideas. Human beings are social animals. That’s one of our great advantages. Be that when you network and build connections.
      • Connect around your interest. One of the more successful networkers at Davos, Rich Stromback, has claimed that “99% of networking is a waste of time” because many people care too much about first impressions.[6] Care about trying to genuinely connect around your interests instead.
      • Realize this won’t be easy. Relationship-building takes time to do effectively. Jeff Goins has described this well: you need to be comfortable approaching the right people, become comfortable with rejection (very hard), understand nothing happens overnight despite what popular culture might show us, and be ready to approach some people with your fears because it will make you appear genuine and potentially draw you into them.

      Start to connect

      Imagine this fantasy situation: you know everything in the world. Every single fact. Every single piece of knowledge. All of it. If you were this person but didn’t know any other people, or didn’t know how to talk to people or connect with them, how far would you get?

      Not very far.

      Advertising

      Now imagine you know 1/4 of what that person does. There is much you lack. You don’t know so many things but you know people and have relationships. Think that person will go far?

      Yes.

      It’s not what you know. It’s who. Cultivate connection.

      Reference

      More by this author

      Brian Lee

      Chief of Product Management at Lifehack

      I’m Feeling Bored: 10 Ways to Conquer Boredom (and Busyness) How to Set Ambitious Career Goals (With Examples) Dismissing Sadness Will End up Making You Sadder How To Protect Your Focus From Being “Robbed” By Notifications and Social Media Why We Say What We Won’t Do (but Still Say It Anyway)

      Trending in Smartcut

      1 10 Effective Ways To Make You a Fast Learner 2 8 Time Management Strategies for Busy People 3 50 LinkedIn Influencers To Follow, No Matter Your Industry 4 How to Break Bad Habits (The Only Effective Way) 5 15 Daily Rituals of Highly Successful People

      Read Next

      Advertising
      Advertising
      Advertising

      Last Updated on June 1, 2021

      10 Effective Ways To Make You a Fast Learner

      10 Effective Ways To Make You a Fast Learner

      The importance of learning cannot be underestimated. Learning empowers us to fulfill our ideas and realize our full potential. The speed of gaining new knowledge is practically as important as its volume. Who wouldn’t love to remember tons of information as quickly as possible?

      If you want to start learning faster, you need a new approach towards the process which would enable you to comprehend the essence of the matter and relate it with new concepts you encounter.

      The following 10 tips will help you become a fast learner:

      1. Analyze Your Learning Style

      Before you can start experimenting with different studying methods, you need to understand what type of learner you are:

      Is your memory associated to sound?

      Maybe you can remember what you were reading when a particular song was playing? If this is your case, then you fall into the category of auditory learners.

      If you want to start studying more efficiently, then it would be wise to record the lectures and listen to them instead of reading textbooks.

      Do you relate information to visual content?

      Advertising

      If you are a visual learner, you should implement images, graphs, charts, infographics, colorful lists, flashcards, and other types of visual content when you study.

      Are you a physical learner?

      If your learning style is not auditory or visual, then you might be a physical learner. Some students have too much energy; they tap their feet or play with a pen during lectures.

      A walk before a lecture will calm your nerves down. You can try studying or listening to audio lectures during a walk. That will help you remember the information more quickly.

      2. Use the Right EdTech Tools

      Technology has the power of making everything easier. There are plenty of websites, online tools, and smartphone/tablet apps that will boost your skills of planning, writing, time management and brainstorming, etc.

      One way of improving your productivity is using flashcards. You can make your own cards, but you can also download pre-made kits online:

      • StudyBlue is one of the best online destinations when it comes to creating and discovering flashcards from all areas of study.
      • If you are looking for a tool that makes the process of brainstorming more effective, then you should try PapersGear.
      • You also need the SelfControl app, which will eliminate all distractions when you need to stay focused.
      • Quizlet is another website you should bookmark; it offers study tools that will transform the learning process into a fun activity.
      • Notella is an app that will help you take quick notes at any time.
      • Brainscape is an educational platform that makes complex subjects easy by relying on cognitive science.
      • You can also try Dragon Dictation, especially if you are an audio learner.

      3. Train Your Brain to Accept New Information

      Efficient studying is a habit. Your brain needs constant training if you want to improve your focus and complete complex tasks without taking breaks.

      One way to achieve this goal is to create a private learning space in your home. You’ll also need a specific time of day that you’ll devote to studying. That will make your brain ready to accept the information it gets, so you’ll notice you’re starting to learn much faster by the day.

      Advertising

      4. Get Some Exercise

      You are aware of the fact that physical activity is good for your body, but your brain needs it too!

      Light exercise, such as yoga, can help you learn much faster. If you are inactive throughout the day, your body will want to move, so it will be difficult for you to stay focused.

      If, on the other hand, you canalize your energy through light training sessions, you will be ready to study productively.

      5. Work on the Ambiance

      If you have a noisy neighborhood or a working environment full of distractions, you won’t be able to learn or study no matter how hard you try.

      If you want to learn quickly, you need a quiet, distraction-free environment that won’t disturb the mind in any way. Such a peaceful place will set you in learning mode as soon as you find yourself in it.

      6. Take a Lot of Notes

      Only few people are capable of remembering information as they read it. If you don’t belong to this category of privileged learners, then you absolutely need to start taking notes.

      This simple learning method will force you to think about the essence of the material. It will also give you a nice framework that will help you review the things you’ve learned.

      Write down only the most important information. That will help you remember all the other things you’ve learned.

      Advertising

      Here’re some tips to take notes effectively: Why Successful People Take Notes And How to Make It Your Habit

      7. Make Mind Maps

      Mind maps are among the best tools to speed up the learning process. Your mind will process information effectively if you create a visual representation of the things you’re about to learn.

      You can create a nice mind map in the old-school way: take a large sheet of paper and organize all facts and explanations. Use pictures, note-cards, and other symbols you can think of. Group similar items together and connect them with colorful pens.

      Some tips mind-mapping here: How to Mind Map: Visualize Your Cluttered Thoughts in 3 Simple Steps

      Of course, you can also use an online mind mapping tool if you want to save yourself some time.

      8. Experiment with Memorization Methods

      Memorizing is often misused in the process of studying. Some people memorize whole sentences, paragraphs and lectures without grasping their essence.

      However, memorization can be useful when you need to learn definitions and classifications really quickly. Don’t avoid this technique if you want to fill your brain with information without wasting any time.

      Try this if you want to memorize more and faster: How to Memorize More and Faster Than Other People

      Advertising

      9. Find the Right Context

      Memorization works solely in times of urgency. If you want to learn in the most effective manner, then you need to have context for information.

      Find an aspect that’s interesting for you; try to research for related information, and you’ll discover the joy of learning.

      The first step? Jot down as much information and as many ideas as possible: How Simply Jotting Down Ideas Can Make You Smarter

      With time, this practice will make you a faster learner.

      10. Study Every Day

      It will take some time before you get used to a daily studying routine, but your mind will eventually grasp the habit.

      The more frequently you study, the less time it will take for you to remember the things you read.

      If you start studying as soon as possible after you have learned some new concepts, it won’t take long at all for you to get ready for an exam. Now that sounds really good, doesn’t it?

      More to Help You Learn Quicker

      Featured photo credit: Becca Tapert via unsplash.com

      Advertising

      Read Next