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New to IT, advice for professional networking

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New to IT, advice for professional networking

sghoshda
Hi everyone,
I've been lurking Tech Republic for a while. I'm a recent university grad and currently in a hardware specialist role (it's an ok starting point). The hardest part right now I am finding is specializing in an area and need more advice. I'm from Toronto and most of the IT leaders I know have more of a software dev/systems engineer background with an MBA, where as my program was heavy on IT mgmt., ERP and business analysis. The VPs I have met are great, but obviously the times are different and the advice I get from multiple sources can get confusing on building a strategic career path. Books I read and certs will only go so far, but I know there's a huge amount of learning ahead!

Does anyone know of any IT conferences or networking events here in the Toronto area? Or even a different part of Ontario...to gain more knowledge about a career path or a meet and greet. My university holds TED talks and there are a lot of start-up conferences, which are great but not exactly what I'm talking about (more interested meeting with Project Managers, CIO/CTOs, Consultants to get their insight). I have found nothing beyond recruiters coming out to our school (where 1 in 250 may get hired), which no one finds effective for job hunting. Can anyone provide some advice? I usually am a face to face person being formerly in sales, but a lot of IT pros are too busy with their own operations and projects to even find for a meeting!

Your recommendations are much appreciated!