When the laptop is powered up and "ready to go" just hover your cursor over the network icon in the system tray and right click it. Select connect to a network, pick yours from the list available and that's I seem to remember. All self explanetry, enter your router passkey if used and make sure the box "always connect to this network" is ticked... should be by default.
You can also select "connect to" from the start menu to access networks.
Also make use of "help and support" in the start menu... just type "wireless networks" in there.
Much under used feature help/support.