Want to get ahead?
No, I’m not talking about getting rich quick, losing weight, or something you’d hear in a breathless late-night infomercial.
Rather, it’s how to deal with accelerating information overload and never-ending project lists.
The paradox is that by increasing your knowledge, you increase your efficiency and impact. But the more time you spending learning and preparing, the less precious time for doing. And even if you have knowledge plus enough time to execute, you still need the network of people.
Most people focus on just one of these three things– acquiring knowledge, networking, and doing. So they end up being academics, salespeople, and frustrated entrepreneurs. Maybe they do a halfway job in networking and a halfway job in executing– no good. Unable to successfully do all three, they’re forced to abandon their dreams and go work for someone else.
Do you feel this pain?
But there’s a way around the paradox of the time crunch here in doing these three things. And that is to do them one at a time, in the right sequence.
1. You start with acquiring knowledge.
I probably read 4,000 books in the first 25 years of my life– at the expense of making friends or doing much else. That’s about a book every day and a half. You don’t need to go overboard like that. Just choose one topic and get deep. Reading blogs, watching YouTube videos, and surfing the web don’t count. Books help you get deep into a topic, connecting complex thoughts.
2. Then you build your network.
No sense in connecting with people unless there’s quid pro quo– your ability to add value to conversations as an equal. Even better, as your network grows, you can connect people together who need each other, increasing your introduction value. But without enough knowledge, you could know all the people in the world, but have nothing meaningful to say.
3. And finally, you can build your company.
With knowledge in a field and a network of supporters on your side, you won’t be taking random action. Sure, fail fast and keep getting up every time, but you can sustain only so many failures until you run out of time or energy. Despite how hard you may work or how brilliant you are, you’re only as good as your team. That’s why network and knowledge come first.
Another way to look at this is the LDT (Learn, Do, Teach) triad.
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You have to start out as a student before you can begin to manage (to interact with others). And you must have the ability to coordinate before you can further your mission (your “why” that drives your business). You can’t be a leader without first being a manager, nor a manager without being a student.
And if you subscribe to the progression of learn, do, teach, then you’ll see how the ABP triad fits in. ABP is Analyst, Business, Partner.
The analyst learns, the business owner coordinates, and the partner spreads vision. You get scale when your business vision infects others, so that you’re effectively evangelizing and teaching. If you’re not, then you’re fighting uphill for clients and staff, in a blood red, pirahna-infested marketplace.
But if you practice content marketing (also called inbound marketing)… Then the functions of Learn, Do, Teach must mirror the roles of Analyst, Business, Partner. The very operations of your business create word-of-mouth marketing for you.
Too lofty? This works in the most boring of businesses– self-storage, auto mechanics, and small business marketing software.
And as you recruit people to your cause (which should be synonymous with your business, if your passion aligns correctly), then they will progress to be able to train up others. The progression of Learn, Do, Teach ensures that everyone has a growth path, while not requiring you to be have to train and nurture every person all by yourself.
Networking is not hard when you have knowledge– in fact, knowledge is not possible without a network.
This is how to make the network work for you.