Each day, social media newsfeeds are jammed with career self-help articles that promise you insight on how to get ahead at work. While there is no secret sauce on how to gain that promotion or finally vanquish that toxic colleague, there is a roadmap you can follow that can help you zero in on your passion and scale the ranks without trampling on any toes.

As a professional recruiter, here are my networking tips to propelling your career forward to the next level:

Forget ‘Work’, Target ‘Passion’: It’s an old cliché but it’s true. Your occupation cannot be work. Nothing will make you happier than finding your passion and pursuing it. Find something you really enjoy doing, reading about, or discussing and monetize it.

  • If nothing comes to mind immediately, keep a journal for 30 days and simply list the 2 or 3 things that were the highlights of your day.
  • Talk to your friends and family about what areas they see your passion and interest shine and keep track of their answers.
  •  After 30 days, look for common themes and you’ll soon find you’re on the right track.

Friend of a Friend of a Friend: Once you zeroed in on your passion, you will know the kind of career you want to pursue. At this point, it’s time to make friends.

  • In your first 30 days of career planning talk to as many people as you can in your industry or sector of interest. Make sure you reach people at all levels.
  • Your goal is to understand the top companies, their cultures and differences in their business models. This will help you find a company that will both engage your interest and be an environment to foster your growth.
  • When networking never ask for a job, but always ask for information. The job will come. Good people always know other good people and may get you a favorable introduction.
  • This step gives access to getting information for interview prep and hot buttons to focus on during your interview.

BYOB- Build Your Own Board (of Directors): Your work colleagues and industry network are an invaluable resource for insights, perspective, and experiences. And it’s your professional contacts who will play various roles in your success.

  • So, look at yourself as a company and build your personal board of directors.
  • Before exploring any new opportunities or making major presentations, seek counsel from this Board and make sure to give them (and yourself) enough lead time before critical deadlines.

As you can see, there is a way to leverage your existing relationships and networks to propel your career forward. In my next blog post, I’ll share some ideas on how to create an actionable plan to execute your career vision.

I would love to hear your stories about how you have used your networking skills to advance your career. Please share your stories and experiences on how to get ahead at work below.