People always say “Life isn’t about what you know but who you know.” While I agree that if you just want to get a job and work for someone else, this is mostly true. Most employers will give someone a job based on a personal recommendation from someone.

However, in the world of entrepreneurship (in my limited experience), it’s not all about who you know. My twist on this cliche is:

Life is about who you know, after what you know.

My experience so far has been that the more you know, the more people want to know you. In small business, people need help. They need help from people who are experts at what they do unlike large corporations who don’t mind paying someone $75,000/year who doesn’t really know what they’re doing, or who doesn’t really add that much value to the company.

In small business or entrepreneurship, when you become an expert at something is when other people will seek you out. That’s when the “who you know” starts to become handy. When you are an expert at something and you know lots of other people who are experts at their respective fields is when you can start putting together relationships that create value to people or to companies.

Also, in the “information” world today, if you can’t add something to a group, you don’t bring value to it. If as a programmer you can’t tell people “yes, that’s really easy” or “no, you can’t do that easily”, you’re not adding value to the company/conversation/group. If as a marketer you can’t tell people “here’s how we should market this” or “this is how long this campaign is going to take”, you’re not helping.

I recently had someone contact me about doing a joint venture with him on an internet business. This person knew some other people who might get involved, but he had no idea what the final product was supposed to be, or how it was supposed to be marketed, or who the target audience was, how to reach them, where to get content…, …. His “who you know” list isn’t going to be of any use until he gains some knowledge because people won’t want to work with him.

This is my bit of advice to young aspiring entrepreneurs or businessmen who are getting started. Become an expert at something. Then seek to build your network. If you do it the other way, you will close future doors. If you are an expert at something, amazing doors will open for you.