When I was at Stanford, the most successful students were the smartest ones. Fast forward 10 to 20 years, and the most successful people I know aren’t the smartest people I know. However, they often are the most connected. They have many friends in positions of influence and power.

This works both within a company or across an entire industry. This is why you’re smarter than your boss, and you can’t figure out why you’re working for him and not the other way around.

Many people that aren’t well-connected tend to think of building a network of contacts as somehow cheating.

This thinking is a leftover notion from the world of academia.

Let’s say you’re taking a test in school and don’t know the answer. If you’re friends with the smartest person in your class and ask her for the answer, you’re a cheater.

If you do the same thing in a corporation, you’re called a CEO.

In school, you may be smarter than any ONE other person in school.

BUT in the real world, no matter how smart you are, you will never be smarter than someone with a powerful network of 50 smart people.

A lone individual can never beat a strong team. Never.

This is WHY, in the real world, the smartest person is rarely the most successful person.

Instead, the most CONNECTED person that is also smart ENOUGH is often the most successful.

You’ve likely devoted one to two DECADES in school building your network of ideas, knowledge and skills.

In comparison, how much time have you devoted to building your network of contacts?

Have you been building your network for decades? For years? For months? Or even a few measly days or hours?

If you’re like most people, you’ve over-invested in your intellect relative to your investment in your network. This is profoundly suboptimal.

If you’d like to build your own network of powerful friends, colleagues and contacts, but don’t know how to get started, I refer you to my program on How to Network Effectively for Career Opportunities & Advancement.

In How to Network Effectively, I share with you my approach to building a powerful network in a way that feels totally natural and comfortable, even if you’re an introvert.

You don’t build a network by hounding people to be your friend. (That’s a good way to be seen as a stalker.) My approach to networking involves building mutually beneficial relationships where when you call, they are delighted to talk to you.

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