Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Legal Connections

Connections have always had such a pejorative meaning in my mind, growing up in Morocco and seeing how unfairly connections are utilized everyday. I have seen people skip day-long lines at public service institutions, get admitted to prestigious schools without screening, secure jobs they did not deserve, and even escape from jail time thanks to "connections".

In addition to bribery, illegal use of connections is very common in many developing countries. But when I came to the United States, my perception on connections has gradually changed. I discovered a legal way of exploring connections. I, for long, believed that smart and  motivated people will eventually make it without connections and solely based on merit. However, it is not always the case. It is about who you know and what you do with it. It is perfectly legal when the opportunity to make these connections, usually in less corrupt countries, is accessible to all. 

The key is networking and meeting people who see your intelligence and motivation. I was always encouraged by my mentors and professors to get out and meet new people, and to never be afraid of asking for contact information, of following up, and building my professional network. Legal Connections can be crucial in getting that dream job or getting admitted to that prestigious university on your list. In fact, it is  very common for employers and universities to ask for personal references because you are expected to have made enough connections who can speak in your favor. It is your responsibility but also the responsibility of your connection to assess the extent in which you get helped in getting ahead. But something I learned for sure is that networking and building up your professional network is a skill that can be learned by all and does not necessarily translate to breaking the generally accepted code of ethics or the law. 

Are connections still illegally or unethically used? absolutely. However, as long as you believe that you are using a connection obtained based on your networking efforts and hard work, it is not wrong to explore that in your favor.

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