Whether actively job searching or steadily employed, strategic networking is critical for all professionals. Expanding your connections and access to insights, hidden opportunities, and advocacy can optimize job hunting efforts. At the same time, networking develops transferable skills, diverse perspectives, mentors, and an indispensable support system that drive continuous growth and bolster resilience—invaluable benefits even in a stable role you love. Strategic networking is a long-term investment in your career, both expanding possibilities and sustaining satisfaction across varied seasons of life.
At Inizio Engage, our talent acquisition team recognizes the immense value of networking for surfacing outstanding candidates and cultivating meaningful relationships that advance careers on both sides of the hiring table. Sara McNamara, one of our talent acquisition associates, really loves the topic of networking and looks for candidates and colleagues that understand its value too.
„Networking is about far more than transactions – it’s about crafting lasting connections that advance careers on both sides of the table. As a talent acquisition specialist, I look for candidates who appreciate networking’s ability to surface hidden opportunities and cultivate meaningful professional relationships. When you focus on becoming part of people’s networks rather than just expanding your own, wonderful things happen for everyone involved.“
When figuring out where to even begin, McNamara has some important tips and things to remember.
- Set Clear Goals: “Define your objectives for networking because they can vary slightly depending on where you are in your career and what you are trying to achieve,” McNamara said. “Are you looking for job opportunities, seeking industry insights, or expanding your professional circle? Having clear goals will guide your efforts.”
- Update and Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile: Ensure your LinkedIn profile is up to date, highlighting your skills, experiences, and accomplishments. A well-curated profile increases your visibility and credibility. For more on this topic check out our first piece in this series! Apart from in-person events, online platforms like LinkedIn, industry forums, and virtual conferences provide networking opportunities. Engage in discussions and connect with professionals online.
- Research and Identify Events: Identify relevant networking events, conferences, seminars, workshops, and webinars. Choose those where recruiters and stakeholders are likely to be present. Industry-specific gatherings and your educational institution’s alumni events can be particularly valuable. Also, research the event attendees, speakers, and sponsors. Identify specific recruiters and hiring stakeholders you want to connect with at the event. Research their backgrounds to find common interests or talking points. Research enables more targeted, efficient networking with relevant audiences in settings that align with your professional goals and interests. A little homework pays off in better connections.
- Prepare Elevator Pitch: Craft a concise and engaging elevator pitch that introduces yourself, your background, and your aspirations. This helps you make a strong impression and initiate conversations smoothly.
- Engage Actively: During events, participate actively in discussions, ask insightful questions, and share your expertise. Engaging in meaningful conversations makes you memorable to others.
- Listen and Learn: Networking is a two-way street. Listen attentively to what others have to say. Learning from their experiences can provide valuable insights and establish rapport. Also, it’s important to remember that not all networking attempts will yield immediate results. Adapt your approach based on your experiences and the feedback you receive. Continuous learning is key.
- Exchange Contact Information and Always Follow Up: After engaging in a conversation, don’t hesitate to exchange contact information. A business card or a LinkedIn connection can help maintain the connection beyond the event. Send personalized follow-up messages within a few days after the event. Express your gratitude for the conversation, reference specific points discussed, and express your interest in staying connected.
- Offer Value: Networking is about building relationships, not just taking. Offer value to your connections, such as sharing relevant articles, insights, or even introducing them to other contacts.
- Stay Consistent: Regularly engage with your network by sharing updates, insights, or even congratulating them on their achievements. Consistency helps maintain and nurture relationships.
- Cultivate Relationships Over Time: Building meaningful connections takes time. Be patient and continue nurturing relationships. You never know when an opportunity might arise.
Strategic networking is critical for career success, yet it requires effort and intentionality. Define your goals, identify targeted opportunities, prepare an engaging introduction, and actively participate in discussions. Listen attentively, exchange contact details, and follow up consistently to nurture connections over time. Offer value rather than merely taking, adaptable to feedback, and stay patient – meaningful relationships develop gradually. While networking expands possibilities for job seekers through access, visibility, and advocates, it also sustains professionals in steady roles by enabling continuous development, diverse viewpoints, and support systems. When done authentically, networking advances careers on both sides of the table.
“At its core, strategic networking is about crafting win-win relationships, not transactions. Approach it with this mutual mindset, and wonderful things happen,” McNamara said.
Want to network with us on LinkedIn? Follow our company page or connect directly with Sara.
Are you currently looking for a new job opportunity? Visit our vacancies page to check out the latest openings at Inizio Engage.