To hone your skills or to network? That is the ultimate question we all have to come to terms with, at some point in life. Some may place their bets on having the right skills while others may swear by the importance of their network.
They both may be right because experiences vary from one person to another. So, does the submitted MBA application personal statement from potential candidates. You could be looking for the ideal position after your MBA, or think about starting or growing your business.
Whatever your reasons, you need to think critically about your next move. Below are the reasons why?
Changing employment landscape
A 2016 report by the World Economic Forum, on The Future of Jobs, predicts that many people will be in jobs that don’t exist at present, by 2020. The report also predicts a shift in skills that are sought after, from technical to soft skills.
It is a shift that is already taking place in various industries. As employers seek potential employees, who have attributes such as, problem-solving, time management, effective communication, ability to work in teams, and more. According to The Ladders, possessing soft skills brings the performance of an employee, to life.
The democratisation of the ability to network
Throughout history, whom you know, has been more important than what you know. When there’s difficulty in finding the appropriate contacts, hoarding of information, and scarcity of cash; that is mostly true.
However, the development and increased usage of various social networking platforms, networking is becoming democratised. They have made connecting with people as smooth as a Google Search. Regarding capital, it is safe to say that it is relatively plentiful.
Besides, with more information becoming public, this offers a person less competitive advantage, nowadays. You don’t need an invitation to listen to free TED lectures. In a world that’s more hyper-connected, whom you know may not matter as much as it did in the past.
Personal Connections are essential to a business
A good connection could write you a compelling waiver letter. All over the globe, technological advances are opening up new economic avenues. Both consumers and businesses have a wide array of organisations to choose from, which increases competition.
In an article in the Harvard Business Review by Cara France and Mark Bonchek; they explain what a business needs to remain competitive. They show how creating relationships that are mutually beneficial to the customer, and the organisation gives a company, competitive advantage.
The Concept of Marginal Benefit
It is a concept from economics that may not apply in your search for a suitable statement of purpose for MBA service but proves useful in this debate. It is the idea that many activities, result in diminishing returns.
In the tradeoff between skill-development and networking, the worth of an activity depends on your position on the marginal benefit curve. For one who never cultivates connections, networking more may prove beneficial, than improving your skills.
On the other hand, no matter how many people you know, if you don’t have the right skills; you are useless. You need to have something that people can pay you to do. Besides your skills and connections form a loop of positive feedback.
In that, your skills improve depending on the people you know. In turn, with improved skills, you can meet more important people.
Possessing a better network drives you to better your skills because of the limited opportunities that encourage rapid growth of one’s abilities. Often, these opportunities flow through relationships. It may be difficult for you to separate your skills from your connections.
Once you have built valuable skills that other people want, it will be easier for more people to want to have a meeting with you. For many of us like high-value people, right?
For some people, finding a balance between networking and developing one’s skills may prove difficult, especially for the introverted types. We often if not always find refuge in our solitude and rarely form strong connections with the people we meet for the first time.
However, in a world that celebrates extroversion, it may be best to tap into your extroverted mode, once in a while. Try cycling between these two opposing modes for your career growth.
Besides, when you form new relationships, you open doors to serendipity. As for which is more important, it all depends on your location on the curve of marginal benefit. Some may benefit from more networking, others from improving their skills.
Then, there are those who need to find a balance between both. All in all, the connections we have, generate the opportunities available to us, and for you to accept any of those opportunities, you need the ability to deliver.