There are at least two doors into any house, the front door, and the back door. Something similar is true for any structure of possibility or power.
The front door is all about the way things are officially done. The back door is all about the way things are really done. The front door is guarded by rules. The back door is guarded by relationships.
In the spirit of our architectural metaphors, this observation gives us a window in to the nature of opportunities.
Whenever you seek to do something new, there will be a structure of some sort that you'll need to enter, a pre-existing place you'll need to dwell in, for at least a while, in order to get started. It could end up being a permanent residence, or could serve as merely a transitional space. Most who identify where they need to go next will seek to enter through the front. But few ever manage to gain access that way. Knowing someone who is already in that house can get you invited around to the back and welcomed with a smile, while the crowd waits out front.
You see this played out all the time, in any field. Relationships rule the world. And that's a basic insight most of us have early on in our careers, but sometimes come to forget in our strategies and actions later on, especially in times of creativity or transition, focused as we might be, on other things. Those who remember it well can have access to many mansions.
The term 'networking' is such a poor, heartless, bloodless word for this, as drained of its vitality as it is redolent of mechanistic imagery. My favorite book on the role relationships can play in our work and in our lives is Never Eat Alone, by Keith Ferrazzi. It's a feast of insights about how the spirit of true relationships - genuine, authentic relationships - can animate anything we do and provide us with the way stations, as well as more permanent homes, for whatever it is that we desire to do.
My quick recommendation of the day is that we should all review our tendencies with regard to our relationships. Do we tend that garden regularly, or allow it to languish, uncultivated?
If you have a way of keeping up with people, or connecting more deeply, I'd love to hear it, either here or by email. And tell me how how it's helped you or others get welcomed into that back door.