Some employers and recruiters will be very strict about fairness in their selection procedures but having family members or connections still effectively stack the odds against the non-networked candidate. So, do you pout and sulk about the unfairness of it all and mumble angrily about 'the new nepotism', or do you take the view that if you can't beat 'em, join 'em? It's your call.
Using your networks to help you get ahead
Most people are far more well connected than they think they are. Parents of friends, teachers, family members and even Godparents that you may previously have dismissed as ancient, boring and having zero taste in either clothes or music may, when subjected to closer and more mature scrutiny, have all kinds of interesting and useful value to add. Could they be persuaded to allow you to shadow them at work, put in a good word for you to be considered for a summer job, work experience programme, act as referee or coach you for an interview? Suddenly, the world can seem like a different place.
A word of advice, however, should these contacts agree or offer to help you, don't let them down, take their patronage for granted or put other people's backs up by bragging shamelessly about the leg up you may have been afforded by them.
Pay it forward
Networking only really works when it is based on both give and take. If you become known throughout your career as a generous person, then your personal power and influence will grow correspondingly. If you become a taker and rarely, if ever, a giver, then you'll probably find it harder over time to gain the trust, respect and co-operation of others.
Your personal reputation at work can take a lifetime to build, and mere seconds to destroy.
Career networking groups
Lots of people are brilliant networkers even if they don't think of themselves as such. Catching up with a friend or colleague colleague over a coffee, attending a drinks function after work, going on the company awayday, putting up a profile and connecting with people on online networks such as Linkedin and so on - all of these count as networking activities. If you're connecting with and learning about the people, issues and trends that affect our working lives, you're networking. If you put that knowledge and power to good use, you're networking constructively. If you use it to damage, gossip about and manipulate others or particular situations then you're probably well on your way to jail for insider trading at some point, or well equipped for a career in politics.
Networking can be heady and powerful stuff, use it wisely!
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