Guest post by Justin Goldsborough, who specializes in digital strategy and education at Fleishman-Hillard Kansas City.

Recently, I had the privilege of speaking to a group of communications and journalism students at the University of Missouri. Toward the end of the panel, one of the students asked the following:

“What’s the most important question you’ll ask anyone you work with or interview for a job these days?”

I knew my answer right away. In fact, the way I remember it, I kind of blurted it out:

“What kind of network are you bringing to the table?”

See, for me it’s all about people. The people you’ve worked with, the people you know. If I hire you, I’m getting you. But who else am I getting? That’s what sets you apart in my book.

At BlogWorld last month, opening keynote speaker Scott Stratten called himself a relationship officer, noting: “People do business with people they like, know, and trust. That’s why relationships are so important.”

How does this play out on in an everyday scenario? Well, here are a few:

  • How do the people you know support you and your work? Hopefully like they did when my #pr20chat co-moderator, Heather Whaling, ran a contest to pick the most worthy cause to be her first client after launching her agency, Geben Communication.
  • When a question comes up at work, who can you ask for help? At our office, when we can’t find a solution, I often tweet the question to my network. One example that stands out – I was looking for low-cost measurement tools and asked our #pr20chat community for recommendations. Rex Riepe turned me on to Rowfeeder, and today we use it for a handful of our clients, which has saved those clients money and helped us keep those clients.
  • Who are you learning from on a daily basis? No one person or office has all the answers. Who do you interact with and learn from that can keep us up to date on the latest trends? Sarah Evans is one of our trend watchers. The research she covers in her e-mail newsletter Commentz frequently goes from my inbox to our staff meetings to our client presentations.
  • What communities are you part of? Community service has different meanings. It might mean volunteer work. Or how you help clients listen and engage with consumers. Either way, communities influence perception. To be part of my community, I’d want to see the communities you’re working with. For someone who really understands community – both types – check out Danny Brown. He gets it, for clients and causes.
  • What blogs are you reading? By consistently reading blogs such as Spin Sucks, you’re always learning and building relationships. I want to know that you’re committed to making blogs a part of your routine. That type of commitment shows passion and differentiates you. Here are a few blogs I want to make an effort to read more often:

So how would you have answered that student’s question? If you could only pick one question to define whether or not you want to work with someone, what is it?

Justin Goldsborough specializes in digital strategy and education Fleishman-Hillard Kansas City and is in his fifth year on the Kansas City IABC board, where he is serving as president for the 2010 board year. Justin is a huge Bon Jovi fan and once won third place in a karaoke contest at Chicago’s John Barleycorn’s with a rousing rendition of “Livin’ on a Prayer.” He’s also a diehard Kansas City Royals fan, so go easy when talking baseball.