There are things you know. You know how to drive, how to do your job, and how to change a tyre, maybe.
There are things you know you don’t know. For example, you may not know how to fly a plane (unless you are a pilot), fix a pipe or speak Zulu. You are aware you can’t.
But there are things you don’t know you don’t know. This sounds like a tongue twister, but it means having a blind spot: being unaware of something.
It can be challenging to get to that information we don’t know. Algorithms don’t help: they keep on showing us content related to our interests, to what we know. It’s like a kind of bubble.
Why would we want to access information that’s out of our radar?
It’s no secret that the more you know, the more opportunities you have, and the easier it is to make an informed decision. For example, you may not even know some jobs exist, simply because in your city, country, group of friends and social circle you’ve never heard of them.
How do we access it?
By networking. Networking is the best investment you can make for your career. It is true that it helps you get a job, but its importance does not end there. Here are the reasons why you should never stop networking:
1 Networking helps you find a job
Why? Because by networking, you meet people you didn’t know existed, who can lead you to paths you didn’t know existed.
Each person is a door to a new world you don’t know. Imagine a long aisle full of doors, like in a hotel. Each of them leads to a room full of information, experiences, contacts and opportunities. Imagine never opening them, and never accessing all that treasure. What a waste!
Networking allows you to open those doors and see what treasures there are in those rooms.
You never know where those people, knowledge and experiences will take you.
2 Networking helps you keep on learning
The more people you know, the more you will learn. And here is something of extreme importance: diversity. The more diverse the people you know, the more diverse the things you’ll learn. By staying in your comfort zone, always interacting with the same group of people, the scope of information you’ll access would be a lot smaller than if you interacted with people from diverse walks of life.
Let’s go back to the example of an aisle at a hotel. Imagine you open the doors and all the rooms look more or less the same. That wouldn’t be so interesting. You would get a rigid idea of what a hotel room looks like. But imagine each room has its unique personality, colors, decoration, and layout. You would get a different idea from each of them. Something similar happens with people. Networking makes it easier to meet people who are very different from each other, and that helps you learn new things and access new perspectives.
3 Networking gives you access to new opportunities that you were unaware of
These diverse people who introduce you to diverse knowledge, ideas and experiences can open the door to diverse opportunities that were out of your radar.
Imagine booking a trip from a travel agency. They arrange everything: the flights, hotels and every single place you are going to visit. You know exactly what is going to happen each day and hour. Now imagine that you get distracted, lose your group and get lost: you’ll see places you didn’t know existed, and that weren’t in your plans. But you loved them, and you were glad to have seen them, because they gave you a different perspective of this city you are visiting.
This is what networking can do; it can take you to places you didn’t know existed.
Don’t think of networking as going to an event, one day at a specific time
Think of networking as genuinely trying to learn more about the people you already know.
For example, you can talk to and learn more about:
● coworkers you don’t usually interact with
● a friend of a friend
● you friend’s parents and relatives
● your neighbor
● people at the supermarket, when you go shopping
Start networking with people you already have around.
In my case, I’m an introvert. I’m not the person who would be talking to everyone.
However, I still managed to meet a lot of new people because of my wife or people I already know. When I came to New Zealand, I knew I wanted to start my own business. The first person with whom I started talking about this was the immigration advisor that helped my wife with her student visa. So here is an example of how I started talking to someone that was a second contact of mine (the first contact was my wife, and the second, the immigration advisor) that helped me start my business through networking.
● The more people you know, the more you will learn.
● The more you learn, the more opportunities you will have.
● The more opportunities you have, the more choices you get.
● The more choices you get, the better chances you have to do something you love.
Get out of your comfort zone and start networking. Discover all those things you don’t know you don’t know, and help other people discover what they don’t know they don’t know.
Don’t forget you are a door to opportunities for other people as well.