Thursday, September 22, 2011

It Is Who You Know!

Discussing book binding at Graph Expo
The old adage states “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know that matters.”

This saying has always troubled me because it implies that you can be a total fool and still be successful if you just have the right connections. In the world that I have observed, connections may help a person get started, but it requires talent, skill and a lot of hard work to succeed.

Recently, I have realized that your connections determine your ability to succeed in a more indirect way. What you know does matter, but who you know determines what you know.

Most human knowledge is acquired second hand from other human beings. The information can be transferred through face-to-face meetings, books, magazines, blogs or tweets. The people you meet in the hallway or follow on Twitter determine the quality of ongoing education you receive every day.

Last week, I attended Graph Expo which is the largest gathering of digital and offset printers each year in the United States. It was a great reminder that face-to-face interaction at trade shows is critically important even in the Internet age. Nothing can replace the exchange of ideas that takes place when a group of skilled professionals with common interests and challenges come together.

When you attend a show like Graph Expo, seek out the people who are investing in new technologies and implementing new processes to expand beyond the traditional boundaries of the business. These are most interesting people and the ones that can teach you the most.  As you hear new ideas, think about how you could implement them in your company.

The most important impact of a trade show takes place after you get back home. Don’t just file the ideas away.  Do something!

What have you learned at a trade show recently?

How did you use your new knowledge?