What you know, who you know...
No matter what industry you're in, and what background you've come from, every day brings new opportunities to learn, to grow, and to expand - both professionally and personally.
For some, climbing the career ladder is a textbook, linear progression, ticking off each stage until a target is achieved.
For others, it's less ladder, more spiders web, with so many different experiences and different environments that your CV is more of a novella.
There is no right or wrong way to approach your career - and no right or wrong way to build your experience. Every experience, positive or negative, builds our knowledge and understanding, and can be applied in different ways - even if we take the leap into a whole new industry and start afresh, be that through our own choice or in response to an unexpected situation such as redundancy.
Sometimes, the most painful and difficult experiences, those which totally alter our path, become the rock-bottom that launches us to our greatest successes, though we often only get to see that retrospectively.
As well as applying all the experiences and knowledge we gather along the way, we can learn from the people around us, and the knowledge and experiences they share.
Whether it's through an organised business network, through friendships in the office, or through business mentors or coaches, people are by their very nature a social creature. Even the quietest and most introspective of us find solace in recognising the same traits in another introvert - and the growth of social media has made socialising from the safety of our own home easier and more accessible than ever!
Locally I've found some wonderful business networks, and have been very much enjoying the discussion and learning that comes from that environment, and I've always benefitted professionally from social media networking - where I've also made some wonderful friends and got to know a lot of people with shared interests.
One network I'm having a lot of fun with locally is Drive - if you're in the Bedford area, pop along to their Facebook page to join in the active conversations, or join up through their website.
The old adage "It's not what you know, it's who you know" is as true now as ever - and networking is the best way to build your contact list, knowing a range of people in and outside of your industry, so you can share your knowledge, learn from theirs, develop professional relationships that benefit both sides, and have to hand a name to recommend when someone is on the look out for a certain skill set or expertise.
Growth, development and learning are - and should always be - a every day part of everything we do professionally, and however you learn, whatever your innate personality type, and whether you yearn for the straightforward climb or the spiders web approach to your development, there is a tribe out there who will support you, encourage you, and welcome you.
What have you done today to find yours?