When you’re in school, students with the highest grades are seen as the high performers.

However, something interesting happens when you get out into the workforce for a few years.

You start to realize that high achievers quite often are not the smartest people in the room.

For many people used to an academic environment, this observation seems baffling.

Surely, the smartest person in the room should be the one in charge… right?

Yet time and time again, this isn’t true. 

Let me explain why. 

When you have a high IQ (intellectual intelligence), you have a strong ability to learn how to do new things.

When you have a high EQ (emotional intelligence), you have the ability to work with and lead other people. This translates into the ability to know who knows how to get something done.

Let me give you an example:

Assume you’re at McKinsey and a client has a problem with declining profits in the retail industry.

If you ask a 1st year consultant what he thinks of this situation, he immediately thinks of using a profitability framework to break down costs and sales.

If you ask a partner what she thinks of this situation, she immediately thinks that this engagement calls for one engagement manager and two associates. Bill would be a great manager for this engagement. Mary and Sandeep would be two excellent associates for this engagement.

The consultant thinks of how to solve the client’s problem. The partner thinks of who knows how to solve the problem.

The same is true of an engineer versus a VP of Engineering or a marketing manager versus a Chief Marketing Officer.

The reason you work for a boss (or a boss’s boss) despite having a higher IQ is because they often possess something you lack…

A Network.

They possess a network of relationships that they can draw on to solve their career challenges.

In school, you’re rewarded for what you and you alone can do. If you get help from others on your exam, it’s called “cheating.”

When you do the same in business, it’s not called cheating. It’s called leadership.

School is a single participant “sport.”

Business is a team “sport.”

No matter how talented you are as an individual, you will never beat a well-run team.

You may have more talent and a higher IQ than everyone else on the other team, but collectively they can offset their weaknesses to beat you.

The only way to compete at the higher levels of industry is to realize you’re playing a team sport.

The highest IQ individual doesn’t “win” in business. The individual that’s able to recruit the best team is the one that “wins.”

Sometimes recruiting the best team means hiring the best people.

Other times, it simply means knowing whom to contact to give you the 80/20 shortcut to solving a major problem, getting a key referral to a vendor, or knowing what does/doesn’t work in facing a specific challenge.

To succeed beyond the first few years of your career, you need a network.

Unfortunately, most people think of networking as somewhat sleazy. People perceive it as a form of using other people to further your own career. Frankly, most people feel somewhat disgusted by this form of networking.

I do too — which is why I don’t do it.

However, there’s an alternative form of “networking” that I call “relationship building.”

The premise of relationship building is simple… it’s helping other people.

In fact, one reason I write so many (hopefully) useful articles is an investment in building a relationship with you.

Helping others feels very good.

Relationship building provides the complete opposite of “using people” in common perceptions of “networking.”

It’s easy to do.

People thank you all the time.

It provides an incredible boost to your career.

If you’d like to learn more about the “relationship building” approach to developing a network, I would suggest you learn more about my program on How to Network Effectively for Career Opportunities and Advancement.

My career networking program includes my approach to developing and maintaining key relationships, even if you’re shy or intimidated by the process. Click Here to learn more or order now.

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