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Effective Networking: Revere vs. Dawes

I am a wandering, bitter shade,
Never of me was a hero made;
Poets have never sung my praise,
Nobody crowned my brow with bays;
And if you ask me the fatal cause,
I answer only, “My name was Dawes”

– “The Midnight Ride of William Dawes” by Helen F. Moore

Does anyone out there remember that Paul Revere was not the sole rider on April 18, 1775? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? There were two other men who rode that night, but they have slipped into obscurity. Why?

There are two possible explanations:

  1. Revere’s immortality was solidified by Longfellow’s “Paul Revere’s Ride”. As illustrated by the poem above, there is very real speculation that Revere was only chosen because his name was easier to rhyme than those of the other men.
  2. Revere was the more prominent figure, the most well-known, and the best connected of all of the riders

The first explanation is the most amusing (and likely has some degree of truth to it), but it is far from a complete explanation. It may help explain why Paul Revere is a household name today, but his reputation in his own time laid the foundation.

Although other men arguably did more that night on an individual level, some historians still credit Revere with the mission’s success. Why? Because he was a networking powerhouse. He was so involved with the community, was such a strong leader, and was so well known that he accomplished what no one else could. His word carried weight and he was a one man communications machine – moving others to action and coordinating many other riders from the towns he passed. Because of his reputation and relative prestige, Revere was also called to write a testimony of what happened that night – not Dawes.

What’s the point?

One of the single hardest problems to correct in small businesses is a lack of revenue generation (not enough business). And business owners will often bemoan the lack of business coming through the door. But just as frequently many will not do anything about it.

That just doesn’t work. Especially for a new business, building a brand and a following is the biggest struggle. It is also the thing that will sink you if you are not able to do it quickly enough. And yet people will still sit back, market very passively, and wait for the business to come to them.

Again – it just does not work. As I’ve said before, the success of a business is not exclusively tied to the quality of the goods or services provided. The best craftsmen are often the worst businesspeople. You cannot rely solely on your product for your fledgling company to succeed. When I first started my practice I always said that for each hour I billed out in those early days I spent 40 hours marketing – working hard to build a clientele. Networking events, building relationships, social media, cold calling, SEO (search engine optimization), writing blogs, and other more creative ways of branding – I did and still do all of it. And I am thankful to say that it has worked; I now have a thriving accounting practice. But this takes time and effort – and for anyone seeking to establish a business there is often considerable amount of lead time involved before one sees the tangible benefit (business, sales, clients, whatever).

So who do we want to be – William Dawes or Paul Revere? We can put in the effort, build a distinct brand, and forge strong relationships. And if we do we will succeed. Or we can rest on our non-existent laurels and find ourselves looking for a job a year later because the business has failed. The choice is entirely up to us.

While my expertise is in accounting and finance, this is one of the areas I’ve had to learn for my own business – and find myself advising many of my clients about as well. If you’d like to meet to discuss some strategies to help build your network and brand, would like for me to get you in touch with some specialists who can assist with specific advertising or marketing avenues, or have any other questions regarding your unique situation – visit me at or contact me to schedule your free consultation.

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