Connectivity – It’s Not WHAT You Know But WHO


Connectivity – Who You Know Counts

I got an e-mail the other day from Richard Stiennon, a colleague in the Infosec area. Richard is the Executive Editor at SecurityCurrent which is always a very informative read. However, while digesting the material, I was immediately struck by the old adage “it’s not WHAT you know but WHO you know that counts.”

How true a statement that is. The mere fact that I’m connected to Richard not only made me aware of his insightful content but has already generated real opportunity for engagement and collaboration.

Unfortunately, most often people only associate connectivity with employment searching and the single greatest piece of advice given to job searchers: network, network, network.

Applying This to the Fraud Profession

What’s that philosophy have to do with the fraud world? Plenty. Like anything else, connectivity is critical. Someone asked me the other day what I knew about a particular fraud topic and I jokingly said, “I don’t have to know that, I only have to know who does.”

That may sound flippant but it’s the truth. In fact, I then heard another friend of mine in the profession making the exact same statement several days later. Connectivity – there’s something to it.

The reality is that fraud transcends every industry and organized crime rings adapt their schemes to other businesses, industries, targets and demographics. While one wouldn’t think their company has to be concerned about frauds occurring in other verticals, fraud is cyclical and eventually those frauds make their way into your company’s arena. This is where connectivity plays a huge role.

Reaching Out is Key

Case in point, a number of years ago I was starting to see organized Nigerian frauds in the insurance industry. Knowing that other parts of the financial services industry had already been victimized by these rings I reached out to a friend to inquire  what their experience had been with these groups.

Because the individual knew who I was, not only did he take my call but he provided me with valuable insights and information about the groups M.O. Even though these were different types of companies, the fraud schemes were the same or modified only slightly for another business. We then adapted the information I gathered to prevent fraud in our environment. A true testament to the value of connectivity!

In another instance, I was preparing an insurance presentation for an industry meeting and thought it would be interesting to talk about current schemes from across the country. Very simply, I got on the phone and called five people in SIU management positions.

The calls were productive and provided direct insights into the current fraud issues being faced by five companies in five different regions across the U.S. The extremely current nature of the information made for a very interesting presentation. Another excellent example where connectivity paid dividends.

The truth is, these are but a few of the hundreds of examples I could provide from my career where WHO I know has been more productive for me professionally than WHAT I know. Don’t get me wrong, you still have to be an educated and informed professional but when you combine that knowledge with an active network, you’re value increases exponentially.

Meeting People is Easier Than it Used to Be

I’m often asked “how do you know that person?” The simple truth is that I understand connectivity and the role it plays in professional success.So, I make it a mission to reach out to people across the global fraud space even if it’s only to introduce myself and get on their radar screen. If I don’t know someone personally, and they have something I’m interested in, I make it a point to get in front of them.

The primary professional networking vehicle for connectivity used to be industry conferences. While that still occurs, there’s plenty of virtual opportunities to engage with other professionals in cyberspace and the advent of social media has made connectivity and getting to know people even easier.

You Get What You Give

With regards to regulations, privacy and information disclosure laws, sometimes openly sharing information is problematic and you just can’t do it. We all know that happens. You want to share but you just can’t.

Oftentimes, however, without getting to specific, there’s plenty to be said about fraud generically or what your company’s experience has been with an issue, group, or fraud. The “high level information” can be just as germane to the big picture fraud issues transpiring industry wide with your colleagues but doesn’t jeopardize you, your company, proprietary information or your customer’s PII.

In these instances, if you can share, certainly do so. If it goes beyond what’s professionally reasonable, or needs to be specific to fill an information request, then of course request a subpoena to protect your company from liability.

Bottom Line

I could go on and on and on about situations in my career where connectivity (WHO I knew) was far more valuable to my professional success than WHAT I knew. It’s certainly true that in our industry you get what you give. Give nothing – get nothing. Get nothing and you’re unsuccessful in any industry.

Those are my insights. What are yours?