You’ve heard the saying, “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know”. But I’m here to tell you that it’s not about who you know either. It’s about the people your contacts know – your extended network. And how you take advantage of the connections you have when it really counts.

In this episode I’m chatting about how to get to know your broader network and how this can be beneficial for the future of your career.

Links I mentioned in this episode:

10. It’s not who you know… – Transcript

[00:00:00] Hi, there I’m Bec McFarland the host of the Pop Your Career Podcast. As a career coach, I’m most passionate about helping my clients to discover their own personal flavour of career fulfillment. In this podcast, we are going to be exploring ways that you too can feel more fulfilled by your work. So strap yourself in, get ready for the ride. The tips around here are fast and in abundance.

[00:00:29] Hello hello. It is Bec McFarland here, helping you do better and be better in your career. And today I want to talk to you about this phrase that has been thrown around for years and years. It’s not what you know, it is who you know. So when I say that phrase, I’d love to know what comes up for you? What do you think about? Because for me, [00:01:00] the thing that I think is it’s actually not who you know, either. It’s who they know.

[00:01:07] This has become even more the case as we have begun and continued to embrace the online world. I don’t love LinkedIn. I’m just going to put that out there. I know that it can be such an incredibly useful tool. For me, I find that it’s a bit of a headache. If anyone here owns or runs a business, you can probably relate to me.

[00:01:33] For me on LinkedIn, it is kind of just like this horrible spammy place where people are always sending me private messages and adding me as a friend in the hope that they’re going to sell me leads. So what that looks like is them saying things like, ‘oh, would you like to test out my team? We can guarantee that we will book you 40 career coaching [00:02:00] calls every week or so on and so forth’. And I find that whole thing to be just like really sleazy and skeezy. And so I don’t spend as much time on LinkedIn as what I probably should as a career coach. In fact, I actually, once upon a time had another career coach, judge me quite harshly about the fact that I was not spending a whole lot of time on the LinkedIn platform.

[00:02:25] But what I will say is if you are in a more traditional career, if you are job seeking, if you’re looking to feel more fulfilled by your career, if you’re looking at climbing the ladder, whatever your career journey looks like, LinkedIn is a really, really powerful tool. And I’ve gotta say that if I didn’t run a business and I was back in a more traditional type role than I would be absolutely using LinkedIn to its full capacity.

[00:02:53] Now, the reason that I bring up LinkedIn is that I do think that one of the real assets to the tool [00:03:00] is that not only you can build connections there and you can build relationships and connect with people from all over the world who are in your industry or similar industry who are working for different companies. It’s really, really great from that connection perspective. Right?

[00:03:17] But what I love is that I can also see who my LinkedIn friends or connections are then connected with. And this means that it opens up this whole new world when it comes to the people that are at my fingertips, the people that are in my network.

[00:03:37] And this is why I say it’s not really about who, you know, but it’s about who they know. Because what we are doing is we’re broadening our network. So you might be thinking like, why do I even care about this? Why is this useful? Why would I give a damn who my connections are actually connected with? And that is a fair question.

[00:03:59] The [00:04:00] reason that you might care is if you are perhaps looking at broadening your own network, meeting different people and being quite strategic about the people that you are meeting. So one of the things that I really encourage a lot of my career coaching clients to do, particularly when they’re trying to access the hidden job market, and that’s a whole other episode, but when people are trying to suss out the opportunities that are available out there in the market that aren’t necessarily being advertised, it’s really great to be quite strategic and to be really intentional about the types of people that you are meeting, connecting with and building relationships with.

[00:04:40] Once you know, who you’re connected to and you know who they’re connected to, I’m sure that you’re wondering how this can help?

[00:04:48] This episode is brought to you by the Career Clarity Quest, my absolutely free, seven day program, which is designed to support you in getting so much clearer [00:05:00] about your next steps. Find it at

[00:05:05] In the last episode, I gave you an introduction to the idea of an informational interview, which is a concept that is very well used in the United States, but not so much here in Australia.

[00:05:21] In the example that I provided in that episode, I spoke to you about asking somebody out for a coffee at that point when you’ve been offered a job and you want to just find out whether or not the organization and the team and the manager actually suits you and aligns with your values. But the good news is that these informational interviews can actually be used in loads of different ways. So once you know who you’re connected to and who they’re connected to, you can start to play around with how these connections might be able to help you to get to the next stage in your career. [00:06:00]

[00:06:00] So if, for example, you are looking for a new role and you’ve got a hit list of employers that you would really, really like to work with, or perhaps just like to find out some more information about. The first thing that I would do in this situation would be to jump onto LinkedIn, do a little bit of a search into that organization’s name. And I would see if I have got any contacts who are working there. If I don’t, I’d go down the path of having a look at secondary contacts and seeing if any of the people that I am connected with are connected with people who work for that organization.

[00:06:35] Now it is a small world, and you’ll be surprised at the people that you are connected with through like that second layer of connections.

[00:06:45] Once you’ve identified this person and if you feel like perhaps they would be a good person to meet or have a chat with, then you can actually go ahead and ask the person that you are connected with if they’ll provide you with an introduction. So an [00:07:00] example of this might be, I might see a company that I would like to work for. I do a search on LinkedIn and I see that my friend Samantha is connected to a fellow called John who works in the HR department of that organization. So I might reach out to Samantha and say, ‘Hey, Sam, I noticed on LinkedIn that you are connected with John who works for company ABC. I am interested in looking for new work and they have been flagged as a company that I’d love to work for. I wonder if you would mind introducing me to John so that I can arrange a time to have a chat with him about what it’s like to work for that organization’.

[00:07:38] Personally, I like to seek out introductions in this way, because I find that if you do have somebody to introduce you, it’s a bit more of like a warm contact, rather than it just being a cold contact outta the blue, where it seems like you’re asking for something. When you’ve got a friend or a connection, making that introduction, it just makes it a little bit of a [00:08:00] smoother experience.

[00:08:01] Once you then have an opportunity to speak to John directly, this might be a chance for you to, as we’ve discussed, arrange a time to jump on the phone or take John for a coffee to have a chat with him and ask him some questions These could be questions about, as we’ve discussed, what it’s like to work for the organization, but also if you’re becoming connected to the right people, then some great questions to ask might be about whether they know if there are any opportunities becoming available in the near future, or if they have any inside tips about ways that you might be able to secure an interview or to please the people who you are trying to get an interview with

[00:08:41] I have had clients who have had such amazing success with using this process. People who have been able to get connected with quite senior leaders in different organizations, both in the public and private sector and who have been able to get some of that insider information about whether there are [00:09:00] opportunities becoming available and different things that they should focus on or mention in their applications to stand out to the panel members.

[00:09:08] Now, these are just a couple of ways that you can leverage the relationships that you have and the relationships that the people that you have relationships have, but the opportunities or the options here really are endless. I would highly encourage you to take a look today and have a think about who you are connected with and how that might benefit you or how those people might be able to put you in touch with the people who may be able to help you get to the next stage in your career.

[00:09:38] I hope that this episode has been food for thought for you and that it’s got new thinking about the way that we can network more effectively, particularly in this online world. Have a beautiful week and I look forward to seeing you again in next week’s episode.

[00:09:53] Thanks so much for listening to the Pop Your Career podcast. I hope that you’ve enjoyed [00:10:00] today’s tips and that you found value in what I’ve shared with you. If you like your career advice quick and entertaining, I would love for you to subscribe. Also leave me a rating and a review. If you want to continue the conversation, come and join me over on social media. You can find me everywhere at Pop Your Career. I’ll see you soon.



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About the author 


Bec McFarland is an experienced HR practitioner, manager, career coach and the creator of Pop Your Career. She delights in sharing practical, straight to the point career advice, spending time with her family and eating Mexican food.