Something I have struggled with for a long time is this idea of being a generalist – someone who is relatively good at a bunch of different things. I look at my friends who are specialists – whether a designer, a lawyer, or a doctor – and I envy the clear direction they seem to have.
But uncertainty about what you want in life can have some seriously unexpected benefits. The most important, and supposed key determinant to career success, is exposure to different career opportunities, different people, and different ideas through an open network.
According to network science, the structure of your network is responsible for over 50% of your career success. Most people spend their career in closed networks – a network of people who all know one another. Functioning within a closed network is easier and more efficient, because members know and trust one another, and see eye-to-eye on many issues. While strong advocates and deep relationships are always beneficial, a lack of diversity amongst these relationships can hinder your progress after a certain point.
In addition to knowing more people from the different phases of your professional life, the diversity of your life experience informs your ideas, and gives you a more accurate view of the world. It is uncomfortable being an outsider in a new network of people, but continuously being one will allow you to develop unique relationships, knowledge, and experiences.
At Above the Glass we try to practice what we preach. While our priority is always to be working within our industry, we try to also look outside of the world we operate in. One way we do this is by attending networking events and conferences. We also ask for introductions from friends inside our network to people they know in different industries. By doing all of this we often work way outside of our comfort zones – but I think that is what being an entrepreneur is all about. On more than one occasion Danielle and I have approached people we recognize on the street and introduced ourselves (then followed up with an email). Sometimes nothing comes of our efforts, but more often, small pieces come to together, sometimes much later, and add up to making a huge difference in our business.
We hope that by building an open network, we are able to offer you a richer experience at Above the Glass – and inspire you to do the same in your own professional lives. So keep exploring your professional opportunities, because the interactions and networks you are exposed to along to way will improve your odds of success.
thumbnail photo on previous page: Maria Sossa