And, no, it’s not necessarily who you know either.
Don’t get me wrong, both are important! If you don’t have the requisite ideas, skills, and experience – what you know – you probably won’t get too far.
You also must have a strong network – who you know – that you can contact for a variety of reasons. These people are valuable for making new connections, exchanging ideas, and inquiring about opportunities.
But in my experience the most valuable aspect of career progression is who knows you!
Who are your advocates that won’t hesitate to reach out to you when interesting opportunities arise? Opportunities that you may otherwise never uncover or be considered for.
You may know a smaller circle of people quite well and exchange career thoughts and opportunities with them. What about the broader circle of connections where the opportunities are rich, but where you can get lost in the sheer numbers or the passage of time? How many people really know you and understand how you could make a difference? How many would be willing to call or email you to recommend you for an opportunity?
Your personal brand may be top-notch, but not be very valuable if no one knows when to contact you. Look for opportunities to market your brand; offer to speak for local industry groups, continue to connect with others and share your story in a language they can understand and recall later. Accentuate your accomplishments!
Make sure that you’re not ‘out of sight/out of mind’ but that a growing number of influencers and decision-makers know you, your abilities and career desires.