The Quest: A Networking Lifestyle

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I'm a portfolio manager recently let go by the hedge fund group at a bulge bracket investment bank in New York.

Like many of my peers, I grew into the role through an apprentice process that included a lot of hard work and the luck of being in the right place at the right time. Indeed, at many points my physical location may have been the most important factor: It dictated where I went to business school after I met the dean of my program at a networking event. Then, it led me to a banking job after I met representatives from an investment bank presenting on campus.

Every day in my job search, I try to expose myself to as many relevant networking and social events as I possibly can. I tell my story and listen carefully. My recent activity has ranged from meeting both new contacts and former colleagues for coffee to attending financial services presentations or receptions. Just recently I decided to go as far as organizing a networking event that will take place sometime in September.

The time I invest in identifying and attending social events is less than I dedicate to following up and building the relationships after an initial contact. I avoid scheduling too many meetings or events per day, in order to maintain spare capacity for something important that may come up, and to ensure I stay motivated and enjoy the process. In networking, I obtain the best results when I am relaxed and have low expectations. This is the type of environment I'm after in my job search, and this is my motivation to network.

This process is very powerful. The more energy I put into networking, the more I come across interesting job alternatives. My dilemma, in part, is when to stop the process and settle. This is the part of networking that can't be planned or scheduled in advance. But I'm confident that when the perfect meeting comes about, it will be as obvious as it has been in the past, when I've approached the starting gate to a new opportunity. Until then, my journey continues. Along the way, I'll meet many interesting people, and a few will become friends.

James Weldon (a pseudonym) is a portfolio manager. This is the first installment of a weekly column detailing his strategy and tactics in searching for a new job after he was let go by the hedge fund group at a bulge bracket investment bank in New York.

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