What is it that Tom Hood says about networks? Something like this:

“The collaboration curve is greater than the experience curve.”

I’m paraphrasing there, of course, but the essence is this:

Who you know is more important than what you know.

What we know is obsolete almost as soon as we learn it. Who we know, though — the knowledge they share, the connections they make, the wisdom and insights they provide — will take us farther than anything we will learn on our own.

In their fabulous new book Unleash Your Leader: How To Win In Business, Emmanuel Gobillot and Katherine Thomas say your networks will take your farther and help you see and know more in five important ways:

  • Utility: Connect with people who add value to your life, and disconnect from those who don’t.
  • Reciprocity: Make sure you get as much value from your networks as you give, and give as much as you get.
  • Safety: You must feel free to be your true self. You must allow others to be their true selves. “Ask questions, voice your concerns and disclose your fears so others can do the same,” Gobillot and Thomas write.
  • Warmth: “People are more likely to trust you and share with you if they feel they know you,” Gobillot and Thomas write.
  • Maintenance: This is “all about being accessible,” they write. “Relationships start going wrong when people feel they can’t get close to you or get hold of you.”

If you were part of the MACPA’s state or federal tax listservs this tax season, you experienced all of those characteristics, time and time again.

The listservs are communities where tax pros can ask questions, get answers, share insights, gripe, complain, joke, encourage, and support one another through the chaos of busy season. Tax practitioners often describe them as the best parts of their MACPA membership. Tax season routinely closes each year with lovefests of sorts on the listservs — members thanking each other for their contributions to the tax-season conversation.

This recent comment drives the point home more than most:

“No one is an island. That’s so much more appropriate in this profession. The days of the single (IRS) code head seem to have passed, and now being connected is important. This listserv is more than just people exchanging code sections and rules. It’s about people connecting with each other that goes beyond the numbers. It’s the sharing of what’s not written down, what is not taught in a classroom, what has been acquired from the trenches of the day-to-day meeting of client needs / wants / goals. Thank you for the sharing of this expertise / wisdom that, in a single post, can save an hour-plus of time and teach something new simultaneously. An extra thank-you to the heavy hitters on the listserv.”

As our friend and world-renowned futurist Daniel Burrus says, “Your network is your net worth.”

While we’re on the topic, the MACPA’s online communities will soon be getting a makeover. Keep an eye out for the launch of our new “Connect” communities. They’ll include new features, functions, and an easier-to-use-than-ever interface, but the end result will be the same — connections with people who will add value to your life.

That’s what communities and connections are all about.

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