There are two things that truly matter for a successful professional life: courage and network. You could be the smartest person in the room, but without the proper opportunities and the right people, you would be stuck. The problem results when you try to find one without the other because there are no good opportunities without network, and network is useless without courage of taking opportunities.
Opportunities are nothing but occasions or situations that make it possible to do something that you want to do or have to do (dictionary.cambridge.org, n.d.). In other words, they are the definition of taking the leap. However, jumping into the unknown and risking everything you have to seek opportunities is quite scary, and the only way to be confident enough is to have a sense of protection, or like in the circus, a safety net.
It is way easier to have the courage to jump when you know you are not falling, to seek opportunities when you got something to keep you safe. No, we cannot go buy a parachute, nor a safety net to save us, but we can try to knit it from scratch with the second most important tool: network.
Everybody thinks of network as super powerful rich people that can make your dreams come true, just like a lamp genie, but the reality is way different. Network is nothing but the interaction of all the people surrounding you, including family, friends, teachers, colleagues, etc. The dynamics of that interaction change as your life evolves, but the purpose remains: social connection.
All the business schools around the world teach the importance of networking with successful businesspeople [and how to stalk people on LinkedIn as well], but none of them explains the relevance of having a family, friends, mentors, and colleagues that can support you during your professional and personal development.
The first safety network we know is our family, as they take care of us while we grow up. Later, it gets bigger by adding new friends and colleagues, and once we start working, industry mentors become part of that list as well. The main characteristic of this network is that it doesn’t matter where we go or what we do, we can always count on those people because they will support our development, help us achieve our goals, and would not let us fall… summarizing, those people are our safety net.
I have no words to explain all the things my safety net has done for me, but in general terms, they have always given me the courage to take the leap and pursue my goals; therefore, dear reader, my suggestion is to build your safety network first. Find the people you trust and admire the most, get a mentor, and talk with your family and friends about your dreams. Once you have it, jump into the unknown, take the risk, and start working on the network business schools promote (wait for a post on this topic in the upcoming weeks).