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This article serves as a guide for understanding and employing strategic networking. I go through three simple, and common sense rules for making your network work for you and getting the job you want.

Being born and raised in Toronto, Canada I had assumed that this afforded me certain rights.
First, I thought I was never going to be denied an education. If I had the presence of mind and the will to apply myself academic doors would always be open. The second assumption was that I thought I was never going to be out of a job given the aforementioned proclivity for knowledge and a bachelors degree under my belt.
The latter of these assumptions fell very short when I found myself sitting at home on a hot day in August wondering if the young man on the Maury Povich show was in fact the father of the mystery child.
What went wrong here? I went to university, I did a post grad program in a specialized field and I had my coop work experience behind me. Why wasn’t I gainfully employed? Was it the economy? No we were doing well at the time and there were 108 jobs posted on and Monster collectively that I could apply for and it felt as if I had applied for all of them to no avail.
I started to think realistically whether anyone was going to hire a kid straight out of school with four months of experience in his chosen field? Unless I wanted to get into paternity testing I felt like I was fresh out of luck.
The combination of having so many jobs to apply for, no one responding to my applications, and enjoying daytime television sent my job-hunt into a downward freefall.
So with that said I did what any rational thinking unemployed young adult would do, I packed my bags and moved to Ireland. Yes that’s right that small island off the coast of Europe.
What possessed the son of immigrant parents originally from India to buy a one way ticket (literally) to Ireland is really beyond me but here began my informal introduction into the real, politically charged career world, and the notion of “strategic networking” in order to get what you want.
When I got to Ireland I was culture shocked nearly into a coma….wait….or was that all that alcohol?
Anyway I landed my first job with a big multinational bank AND it was in my field. I was on easy street right?
The first six weeks I spent updating and photocopying training manuals. This was not what I signed up for.
Shortly after this I was invited out by my boss to join “the lads” as it were, for a drink after work. My immediate hesitation was stemming from the fact that it was a Tuesday evening and that it was my boss and her colleagues that were going to be in attendance.
What could go wrong here?
Five pints later…..the Senior VP of Hedge Fund accounting was regaling me with stories about when he was skiing in BC and how much he was dying to go back. He asked me repeatedly how many times I had been out there and was sincerely taken aback each time when I said I had never been. Clearly he thought that BC was merely a stones throw from Toronto, and really why would you think otherwise when I could and had driven across his entire country in four hours.
This outing was my first foray in informal networking and it did wonders for my work life thereafter. The next few weeks at work seemed to really pick up, I finally felt like I could interact with people and not feel like an outsider.
Where this transferred over well into my work life was when a new project came up that I was interested in, I could without hesitation approach the powers that be and express my interest in the project or business endeavor. So here is where we can derive the first rule of strategic networking.
1. Take any chance you can to congregate socially or otherwise with both coworkers and those in more senior positions.
Even if you don’t talk to anyone new, (which obviously should not be the goal) your face will start to become familiar. Familiarity breeds liking and this will begin to elevate both your social skills and career life.
The more at ease I felt going out with coworkers and those higher up than me on the corporate ladder the more it seemed that I was invited to these events and subsequently felt comfortable at them.
It was a way to vent about work, vent about life, and just bond.
From here, my work life seemed to get better and better, by being more comfortable in a work setting it gave me the confidence to take on new responsibilities, ask, successfully, for a raise, and generally get as much as I could out of my employer from a developmental standpoint.
So there I was in Ireland working for the bank and meeting new people. I was in my prime and having a great time exploring Europe. But like any good thing it was sure to come to an end and sooner than I had anticipated.
Before leaving the bank I had the opportunity to speak with a number of executive level members of the organization, which again would not have been possible If I hadn’t made and nurtured those initial connections.
I was concerned with my imminent future when I returned to Toronto and what career path I was going to take in order to get to where I wanted to be, the solution seemed obvious. This is the second rule of strategic networking

2, Speak and get opinions from whomever will listen and more specifically those that are in positions or employment levels that you want to occupy in the future.
I wanted to be in a senior management role so I set out to find out what paths these individuals had taken to get there. While the paths were varied, a few truths remained constant, which are lessons that I will take with me for a long time.
Flash forward to me being back on home turf. It was great to be home and see friends and family, and Toronto hadn’t change. Oddly enough it seemed I had come full circle as yet again I was pondering paternity results of strangers on TV. I was back on the job market and raring to go.
The first thing I did was send out a sort of announcement to all of my previous contacts I had made prior to leaving. I let professors know I was back, my manager at my internship, and again anyone who would listen, after all you never know who knows who.
Here is where the third rule comes into play:
3. Keep in touch with and maintain those relationships, as I mentioned before familiarity breeds liking and really why are you any different?
If your name becomes a staple amongst your network, unless you ran around naked at last years Christmas party, and you do in fact contribute to the organization, people will start to take notice, in a good way.
The more people see you, and know you, and appreciate what you can do on the job, the more likely you are to get passed along to their contacts and soon enough your resume will end up in the hands of some very powerful people. Think six degrees of separation.

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