Monday Musings: Why curiosity and networking are important life skills

I often wonder if I wasted my college years. I have a Political Science degree from UP Manila, and honestly, it has little bearing on what I did after university. I mean, I didn't even bother getting my diploma and true copy of grades before I went on my first job two weeks after graduation! Sure I learned how to write well and to think critically but those are general skills; everything that is directly related to my work now, I learned (and am learning) outside of school.

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So how did I get here? Admittedly, "here" is not very far, but it's a good place to be for a 28-year old as I have my own investors, company, and staff. I still much to prove to myself and others but now I have more resources to do it.

What got me here is curiosity - the desire to learn - and people who were only too happy to teach. I was (and still am in many ways) a shy, introverted girl who knew absolutely nothing about networking. But through the years, as I met people who were generous enough to give me opportunities to earn money and teach me what they know, I learned how valuable networking really is. It's well and good that you're talented, but it's who you know that determines your success or failure in your chosen field.

Is that a bad thing? I don't think so. Whatever your talents and however impressive they are, the world doesn't owe you a job. How well you do in your career is determined by how well you're able to sell yourself, too. It's not just about what you learned from school and what you can actually do; it's how you reach the people who need your particular set of skills.

I can't say that I networked relentlessly (remember: I was shy), but this website helped get my name out there. My clients talked about my work and introduced me to more people; the larger my network, the more I learned. I gained insights I wouldn't otherwise have read in a book or heard in a classroom! These people had practical, applied knowledge about their industries and markets.

So this is my one piece of advice to girls who are starting out, and it's a very simple one: meet people, ask questions, ask for opportunities, and then ask to meet more people. Milk your relationships with grace and tact, and show value too by giving back. Work for free or for very little money if it's the only way to get your foot in the door. Once you're in, learn as much as you possibly can. Rinse and repeat until you get better and can command your price.

You will have arrived before you know it. ^_^