How is your network doing?

A couple of friends and I recently got together for dinner to bid farewell to one of our own. He was preparing to move from South Africa’s city of gold in pursuit of his own gold in Bloemfontein. My friend had been offered the opportunity to work and study for his PHD there; a call for a celebration.

His older brother, a successful advocate that is a few years our senior, joined us. He is as cool as us so that was perfectly alright, and it also didn’t hurt that he offered to take care of the bill for our 20 something struggling asses 🙂

My friend’s brother shared some wise and motivational words with us that night. He encouraged us to support each other’s journeys, not only because we are friends, but because we are a network. That label really stuck with me; I’ve never thought of my friends as my network. It made sense then, and even more when he explained further.  He made reference to his circle of friends; he spoke about the strong network they have built together through their individual achievements. Let me repeat that so it sinks in: they built a strong network TOGETHER through their INDIVIDUAL achivements.

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THE QUESTIONS IS

How often do we maintain that typical, “it’s not my problem” attitude, when a friend can’t find a job, or is just not doing well career wise? In fact, how many of us actually feel a tad bit better about ourselves because we are not in that unfortunate situation? Life after school is a rat race, and it would be silly of you to constantly look out for other people, ensuring that they are making a success of themselves. Nobody has time for that, and that is not at all what I’m suggesting you do. Just think about this: If the people in your social circle are not developing, then how great is your network?

My friend’s brother went on to say that because of the strong network he has built with his circle of friends, none of them will ever be without a job or income. I admired how confident he was about the strength of his connections. This made me question my network:

Are we having relevant conversations about our careers?

Are we having conversations that empower us?

Are we sharing ideas?

Are we identifying problems AND solutions?

Are we building each other?

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HAVE RELEVANT CONVERSATIONS

One of the advocate’s friends was having a meeting at the same restaurant that we were having dinner at; he joined us afterwards. This friend qualified as a Charted Accountant, and is now a self made entrepreneur within the media industry. When he joined our table, he facilitated a discussion that made us find inspiration from our own circle. He went around the table giving each person a chance to explain what they do for a living, and what their plans for the future are.  As each person told their story, everyone else had a valuable suggestion or comment on that particular person’s living and plans. It was amazing because we never have such conversations when we get together; for most of us, get- togethers are about having fun, sharing laughs and talking crap. If we do happen to discuss our careers, lord forbid it be more than 10 minutes.

What I realised that night is that career discussions with friends CAN be fun, not to mention uplifting, It doesn’t have to be draining or boring just because we haven’t reached our goals yet. Furthermore, doesn’t it make sense to have these conversations with people you can actually relate to? We’re so quick to talk to older people that have already done well for themselves for motivation, which is also a great idea, but surely we should also be having these conversations within our circles.

THE LESSON

What I walked away with that night was inspirational. Our network is our bread and butter, we need it to survive- it’s pretty much a sense of ubuntu. The people in our social circles may have skills that we will need to pursue our individual goals, they may have knowledge and ideas that will be useful to us. It’s a good idea to encourage the development of these skills and knowledge, we owe it to ourselves to talk about these things.

We talk about the cars we want to drive, the places we want to travel to or the houses we want to live in;and we have forgotten the most important step: helping each other get there.

I hope all of this makes sense because ever since that night, this is something I have felt absolutely compelled to share, especially with my peers.

I’ll ask you again: How is your network doing?

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Images externally sourced

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