The two keys to your next opportunity

I have often heard people say that when one door closes, another one opens. While this may prove technically correct, some nuances make accuracy and validity of this claim questionable in most people’s professional lives. Just ask the thousands of people who spent a few years looking for the right job.

Is it really another door opening when you have to accept 20% or 40% pay cut? I agree that’s debatable once you factor in the possibility of no doors at all. My big contention is that in the professional world when one door closes, another one may not open right away. However, you can help the process by making sure you maintain a healthy network of professional friends and also keep your marketability index as close to 10 as you can.

1. Your network.

If you are like most people, your network has a lot of people with whom you have never had any contact. At one point or another, we have all accepted friend requests without thinking much about it. It’s a one-click business. I am as guilty of this as anyone I know. This is perhaps self-evident, but the problem with dead networks is that they are utterly useless. Out of the hundreds of people in your network, how many do you have a conversation with on a regular basis? If your answer is more than 50, kudos to you. You put the rest of us to shame. There is a time to nurture your network and a time to benefit from your network. The trouble is that we wait until the proverbial door has been closed, only then do we remember that we have a network of friends to whom we reach out.
My point is that you have a personal responsibility in ensuring that the next door opens. We are not just talking about any door, but the right door. This right door could be starting your own company, or moving into your dream job, or taking your boss’ job. Whatever the case may be, this door will not open without a change in the way you manage your network. One thing is certain when you stay in touch to your network; opportunities will come knocking. This is because at when opportunities appear, we tend to think of the 10 or so people with whom we regularly touch base.

2. Marketability

When I say marketability, in fact, I should be saying employability. As Joi Ito once said: “Education is what others do to you. Learning is what you do to yourself.” I wholeheartedly subscribe to this view.

The only way to stay marketable is to continue learning. Your domain of expertise or your career of choice is not important. If you are not learning something new every day or at least at every opportunity, you will quickly find out that you are backsliding. I think we can all agree that technology is moving faster and faster. The topics you learn in school are quickly becoming obsolete while new topics that did not exist when you were in school are becoming the norm.

The world now demands that workers become smarter than they were the previous day. This means that you have no option but to learn something new today. Additionally, technology has become the centerpiece of every human activity. Regardless of the activity, you are more than likely to be using a computer in one form or another. Jeff Immelt, CEO of IBM, understand this very well. When he said that all his future hires need to learn how to code, he is not just paying lip service. He is painting a picture of what the future will look like and why anyone looking to compete in that marketplace has to come to the job with more than his or her academic training.

When one door closes, another one opens. The keys to making sure the right door opens are to stay in touch with your network and make it your life’s goal to learn something new every day. And obviously, everything you learn today will serve you at some point in the future.