It’s not “Who you know”
I hear “It’s all in who you know” tossed around a lot. Normally by people who want to be somewhere and aren’t. To be fair, there is a tiny, tiny bit of truth to it. But it is nothing like a complete story.
See, when you work really hard and push yourself and try to get somewhere in a field – you meet other people. You make friends – if you’re doing things right. You and your friends are all in the same industry, but you won’t be in the same place. Some will be further along, some you will be further along than.
So as you go, it can look like “Oh, they know Bob, which is how they got that gig.” No, you just knew Bob, because you know Bob and most industries are small. People who do good work gravitate toward each other a lot. They travel in the same circles. Of course you know Bob.
And no one, let me tell you, gets a gig if they can’t do the work. Any company that is willing to put money no the line is going to want to also make money. They won’t throw money down a tube just because you’re friends with Bob. The universe really doesn’t work that way.
Now, that does mean that making friends is something you’re gonna do. Hopefully, just as a human it is something you do anyway, but just in case – let’s expand that a second. I don’t mean meet people and make friends because you can get somewhere. Fuck that. Make friends because they’re good people. Remember that if you ever ask a friend for a favor they are putting their reputation on the line. That could affect their own work later, if what you bring isn’t your 100% best. So before you ever consider asking for help, realize what a huge thing it is.
Then don’t ask anyway. People will offer or they won’t. It’s all good. You’re making friends, not aligning chess pieces.
Your job is to do the work. To build a support network amongst your peers of friends. To be support for your friends. To be a good person who works hard, acts like a professional and strives to do better work with each project.
Remember: It’s not “who you know” it’s “who you are.”