Tips from 21 experts about how to network in their industries

Tips from 21 experts about how to network in their industries was originally published on College Recruiter.

If you’ve read even a few articles or books about how to search for a new job, you’ve undoubtedly read how important it is to network. Unfortunately, many of these articles fail to define just what that means or provide concrete examples for how to network. And even those that do often gloss over the nuts-and-bolts for why networking is so important and, instead, just state that it is.

Let’s be clear: College Recruiter believes that networking stands out as a cornerstone for college and university students, recent graduates, and others early in their careers who are embarking on their career journeys. It’s more than just exchanging business cards or connecting on social media platforms; it’s about forging meaningful relationships that can open doors to opportunities that often are not advertised. Think of networking as a two-way street, where you gain insights and advice from experienced professionals and get the chance to make a lasting impression that could lead to job referrals. Here are a few reasons why networking is invaluable:

  • Access to Hidden Job Markets: Many positions are filled through personal recommendations before they even hit the public job boards. Networking can give you a heads-up on these roles.
  • Personal Endorsements: Being referred by someone within the company can significantly increase your chances of landing an interview and, ultimately, the job.
  • Learning and Growth: Engaging with professionals offers insights into industry trends, skill requirements, and career paths that textbooks and classrooms might not cover.
  • Building Confidence: Regular interaction with industry professionals helps hone your communication skills, boosting your confidence during job interviews.

Ultimately, networking isn’t just about finding your next job; it’s about building a professional community that supports your growth and development throughout your career.

We recently asked 21 experts to share with us effective ways to network within their industries.

  • Join Automotive Innovation Competitions
  • Build Local Small Business Networks
  • Attend Weightlifting Competitions and Clubs
  • Create Genuine Connections in Affiliate Marketing
  • Foster Reciprocal Relationships in Tech
  • Engage in Hardware Industry Events
  • Participate in Forex Trading Forums
  • Host Legal Webinars and Hackathons
  • Contribute to Online Developer Communities
  • Engage on Digital Marketing Platforms
  • Interact at Industry Conferences
  • Develop a Unique Video Production Style
  • Engage on Finance Professional Platforms
  • Participate in Public Sector Events
  • Attend International Boat Shows
  • Support Educators in Online Spaces
  • Organize Blogger Meet-Ups and Retreats
  • Participate in Educational Seminars
  • Attend Holistic Health Fairs
  • Participate Actively in Gaming Events
  • Offer Help at Networking Events

Join Automotive Innovation Competitions

I’ve found that participating in automotive innovation competitions is an incredibly effective way to network within the Motor Vehicle Manufacturing industry. These competitions, often sponsored by leading automotive companies and industry organizations, provide a platform for professionals and enthusiasts to showcase their innovative ideas and technical prowess.

By entering these competitions, I not only get the opportunity to present my work to industry leaders but also to connect with fellow innovators who share a passion for automotive technology. The collaborative atmosphere and shared challenges foster a unique bonding experience, leading to long-term professional relationships.

Additionally, the feedback from judges, who are often seasoned industry experts, offers invaluable insights and opens doors to mentorship and collaboration opportunities.

Sturgeon Christie, CEO, Second Skin Audio

Build Local Small Business Networks

As a small business, one of the most important things you can do to network is to start locally. Even as an online business, it is in your locality that you are likely to start building your support, so make sure to attend other small business events that are both created for networking or just run by other small businesses. 

As you grow, this will help to build you a community of support that can offer support and guidance when you need it. Creating your own business can be incredibly lonely because you feel like all the decisions are on your shoulders, so taking time to get to know people in the same situation around you can really help you to build up a network and to feel less alone.

The pressure is still on you to grow your business (alongside your team, of course!) but there is no reason you need to feel completely alone. For those moments when you can’t speak to your team, building through those local networks will ensure you always have peers to connect with.

Bobby Lawson, Technology Editor and Publisher, Earth Web

Attend Weightlifting Competitions and Clubs

Networking is hard to overestimate in sports. Networking led me to Oleksiy Torokhtiy, the Olympic champion! I joined his team, and now we are developing a series of learning materials for weightlifters.

My top 3 tips on networking in sports:

1. Attend weightlifting competitions. Participating in, or even just attending, weightlifting competitions offers a direct way to immerse yourself in the community. Here, you can meet athletes, coaches, and industry professionals, opening doors to new opportunities and insights.

2. Join weightlifting clubs or gyms. Becoming a member of a specialized weightlifting club or gym puts you in the midst of like-minded individuals. It’s a place where you can share knowledge, find mentors, and build lasting relationships in the industry.

3. Engage in online communities. Be active on Instagram—thousands of Olympic weightlifters hang out there.

Trust me, being open to making connections and actively participating in these settings can significantly enhance your network within the weightlifting and fitness industry.

Sergii Putsov, Head of Sport Science, PhD, Torokhtiy Weightlifting

Create Genuine Connections in Affiliate Marketing

Networking in affiliate marketing isn’t just about exchanging business cards but creating genuine connections. Engaging in industry forums, webinars, and social media groups is key. A strategy that has worked for me over the years is focusing on quality over quantity. Instead of trying to connect with everyone, invest time in building solid relationships with a few key players. For example, after a webinar, sending a personalized follow-up message expressing specific insights gained from their presentation shows genuine interest.

To aspiring professionals, my advice is to become a valuable resource. Share industry insights, collaborate on projects, and offer assistance when possible. This builds a positive reputation and strengthens your network organically. In the affiliate marketing world, authentic connections and mutual support are the keys to advancing your career.

Jon Torres, CEO, Jon Torres

Foster Reciprocal Relationships in Tech

In the close-knit yet ever-evolving tech landscape, genuine relationships drive careers more than hard skills. Outdated paradigms emphasize extracting value from conversations to advance yourself. But sustainable success stems from mindsets of mutual investment—approaching encounters oriented not around serving yourself but serving others. 

Early on, viewing events as transactional milestones to grab cards or leads constrained my trajectory and drained me. Once I started actively empowering newcomers, sharing advice, and making thoughtful introductions, expecting nothing in return, I discovered enrichment, both personal and professional, in intellectual intimacy. Now, I advise upstarts: avoid networking “hacks”; let authentic curiosity guide exchanges. 

Become a talent matchmaker; derive purpose through realizing reciprocal aspirations in others. Soon, you’ll think about strengthening access and opportunity for your widening circle, organically expanding your sphere of breakthrough influence. Give more than you ask of any interaction, and view every encounter as potential mentorship. In time, the market returns your investment tenfold in joy and possibility.

Lou Reverchuk, Co-Founder and CEO, EchoGlobal

Engage in Hardware Industry Events

In the hardware industry, networking is essential for growth. Firstly, attending trade shows and industry events offers invaluable face-to-face interactions. Secondly, leveraging social media platforms like LinkedIn allows for connecting with professionals worldwide. 

Lastly, participating in industry-specific forums or online communities fosters ongoing dialogue and knowledge exchange. By actively engaging in these avenues, aspiring professionals can forge meaningful connections, gain insights, and propel their careers forward in the hardware industry.

Gavin Yi, CEO, Yijin Hardware

Participate in Forex Trading Forums

To connect with others in the Forex and trading world, I focus on being part of events specific to our field, like workshops, meet-ups, and digital seminars. It’s at these forums where I get to meet professionals who share my interests and where we can exchange insights that matter to us. I’m also active on LinkedIn, not just browsing but actively contributing by sharing expert advice and engaging with content related to our industry. 

I’ve found immense value in joining forums and online communities dedicated to trading; it’s there I’ve connected with industry leaders across the globe. My method is simple—show genuine interest in what others have to say, share my own insights, and keep in touch regularly to nurture these connections. This hands-on approach has significantly expanded my professional circle and unlocked many new paths for me in this field.

Ace Zhuo, Business Development Director (Sales and Marketing) and Tech and Finance Expert, TradingFXVPS

Host Legal Webinars and Hackathons

For aspiring legal professionals, I’d like to offer three unique ideas:

1. Launch a Legal Webinar Series: Start hosting webinars on the latest legal trends or pressing issues. It’s a great way to share your insights and attract an audience that’s genuinely interested in your expertise. It can also start to position you as a thought leader in your space. Collaborating with law schools or firms can amplify your reach and introduce you to professionals who are on the same wavelength.

2. Get into Legal Hackathons: These events are about creatively tackling legal challenges, not just coding. Participating in or organizing legal hackathons is an excellent way to network with forward-thinking legal minds and tech enthusiasts who are innovating within the industry.

3. Contribute to Legal Research Projects: Joining legal research initiatives offers a chance to dive into complex issues and work alongside academics, policymakers, and industry leaders passionate about shaping the future of law. You can make meaningful contributions and forge connections with those at the forefront of legal thought.

Matt Russell, Founding Partner, Russell & Hill, PLLC

Contribute to Online Developer Communities

Participating in online communities, such as Stack Overflow, GitHub, and Reddit’s programming communities, offers effective networking opportunities within the software development industry.

Engaging in discussions, sharing knowledge, and seeking advice allows you to connect with fellow developers worldwide, regardless of geographical constraints. 

By actively participating in these communities, you can build meaningful relationships, stay updated on industry trends, and collaborate on projects, fostering professional growth and expanding your network within the software development community.

Julian Bruening, CEO, MLP Software Development

Engage on Digital Marketing Platforms

As the CEO of a digital marketing company, I believe networking within the digital marketing industry is crucial for career advancement and professional growth. The industry is dynamic and ever-evolving, requiring professionals to stay updated with the latest trends and technologies. 

LinkedIn is the quintessential professional networking site. Share your insights, join industry groups, and engage with content posted by leaders in digital marketing within the tech industry. Regular participation in discussions can increase your visibility and establish you as a knowledgeable professional.

Conferences and workshops are not only for learning about the latest trends but also for meeting like-minded professionals. Make it a point to introduce yourself to speakers and attendees, exchanging contact information for future correspondence.

Platforms like Reddit, Quora, and specific forums dedicated to digital marketing and tech discussions are great for sharing knowledge and connecting with others with similar interests.

Sometimes, the best way to network is to offer value first. Whether helping someone with a project, offering your expertise on a consultation basis, or collaborating on research, these actions can build strong, meaningful connections.

Vaibhav Kakkar, CEO, Digital Web Solutions

Interact at Industry Conferences

Industry conferences and events offer excellent opportunities to network and build valuable connections. Engage in conversations with a variety of attendees, including speakers, when feasible. Focus on genuine interactions, sharing insights, and offering your own expertise. 

This approach allows you to connect with a wider range of individuals, potentially leading to unexpected and fruitful relationships that can contribute to your career advancement.

Kimberley Tyler-Smith, VP of Strategy and Growth, Resume Worded

Develop a Unique Video Production Style

In the creative industry, and more specifically, the video production industry, it can be easier to attract work than to go out looking for it. The industry is over-saturated with talent who can creatively film and edit using only the tools in their pocket, and it is causing decision-makers to start finding the standout talent on social platforms. 

The key to long-term success is to cultivate your own unique, personal style and brand. Whether it’s in the way you film or edit, you need to find your own voice and specialize in a visual language. This will involve you spending time creating short pieces of content and building a social library on platforms such as Instagram and TikTok. It is here that you can network and rely on your visual portfolio to do the heavy lifting. 

Decision-makers in video production and agencies are always looking for the next cool thing, and it’s in these social spaces that they’re looking.

Ryan Stone, Founder and Creative Director, Lambda Films London

Engage on Finance Professional Platforms

I’ve learned that establishing a strong online presence on platforms tailored to finance professionals, such as Seeking Alpha, Bloomberg, or Finimize, is crucial for networking in the finance industry. 

By actively participating in discussions, commenting on articles, and sharing my own insights and analyses, I’ve been able to connect with like-minded professionals, industry experts, and potential mentors. 

Regularly contributing valuable content has not only increased my visibility within the finance community but also led to opportunities for collaborations and job offers. Furthermore, engaging with others’ content by providing thoughtful feedback or sparking discussions has helped solidify my reputation as a knowledgeable and approachable professional in the field.

Gillian Dewar, Chief Financial Officer, Crediful

Participate in Public Sector Events

Networking in the public sector industry can be effectively done through participation in industry events, conferences, and professional associations. Aspiring professionals can establish meaningful connections by attending government-sponsored events, such as town hall meetings or policy forums, and engaging with peers and leaders in their field. 

Additionally, joining professional associations specific to the public sector, such as the American Society for Public Administration, provides opportunities for networking, mentorship, and career development. Leveraging online platforms like LinkedIn and GovLoop to connect with professionals in the industry and participate in discussions and knowledge-sharing activities can also help aspiring public sector professionals advance their careers.

Furthermore, tapping into resources provided by platforms like GovLoop can facilitate networking and professional development. For example, participating in online forums, webinars, and training sessions offered by GovLoop allows individuals to connect with peers, gain insights from industry experts, and stay updated on current trends and best practices in the public sector. By actively engaging with these interactive learning opportunities, aspiring public sector professionals can expand their networks, acquire new skills, and position themselves for career advancement.

Michael Hurwitz, CEO and Co-Founder, Careers in Government

Attend International Boat Shows

From my extensive experience at Yacht Sales International, where we specialize in luxury yacht sales and have a significant presence across key maritime locations, networking within the yacht and maritime industry is a nuanced journey that requires an appreciation for both global trends and local nuances. My involvement in launching and promoting high-end yachts, such as the highly anticipated FJORD 39XP, has offered me a unique vantage point on how to establish and nurture meaningful professional connections in this exclusive sector.

In the yacht industry, attending and actively participating in international boat shows and maritime exhibitions is an absolute must for anyone looking to expand their network. For instance, the Miami International Boat Show and similar events not only serve as a platform to showcase the latest yacht models but also provide unparalleled opportunities for networking with industry leaders, potential clients, and suppliers. My role in leading the presentation of new models like the Greenline Yachts and RYCK at these prestigious events has allowed me to interact directly with key stakeholders, fostering relationships that have been vital for business growth and collaboration.

Furthermore, leveraging digital platforms specific to the maritime industry, such as dedicated online forums and specialized social media channels, has proven to be an effective strategy for engaging with a global audience. Sharing insights and updates about our offerings, including the debut of innovative yacht models or exclusive events, has significantly increased our brand visibility and facilitated interactions with a more diverse set of industry participants. This approach has been instrumental in establishing Yacht Sales International as a thought leader in the luxury boating market.

Lastly, a personal touch goes a long way in this high-value sector. Custom, private viewings and sea trials offer an intimate setting for deepening connections with prospective clients and partners, allowing for a hands-on experience that truly showcases what we bring to the table. These moments have been critical in sealing deals and ensuring repeat business, underscoring the importance of personalized engagement in luxury yacht sales.

In conclusion, the combination of attending major industry events, utilizing digital tools for broader engagement, and offering personalized experiences has been central to my successful networking strategy within the yacht industry.

Wendy Meade, Co-Founder,

Support Educators in Online Spaces

An effective way to network in the education sector is to join the online spaces where current educators hang out. Get to know the ins and outs of the job and organically get to know participants. Then, when the time is right, offer your support. When you need another connection, the people you’ve helped will be more apt to make an introduction.

Kelli Anderson, Career Coach, Texas General Insurance

Organize Blogger Meet-Ups and Retreats

Organizing and participating in blogger meet-ups and retreats has been a successful strategy for networking within the digital publishing business. These in-person gatherings provide a unique opportunity to connect on a more personal level, share experiences, and learn from each other in a relaxed setting. 

I’ve found that attending or even organizing local meet-ups or participating in organized blogger retreats can significantly strengthen community bonds. These events are not only fun but are also rich in opportunities for creating content together, brainstorming collaboration ideas, and discussing strategies to overcome common challenges we face as travel bloggers. 

Engaging in these personal interactions has greatly expanded my network and opened up avenues for collaborative projects that were instrumental in growing my blog’s reach.

Jeremy Scott Foster, Founder, TravelFreak

Participate in Educational Seminars

Engaging effectively in the education sector, I’ve learned the significance of fostering strong, beneficial relationships. Key strategies for networking in this field include participating in educational seminars, being active in online forums and professional groups, as well as leveraging social media networks like LinkedIn and Twitter to make connections. 

Through these avenues, I’ve been able to broaden my understanding and explore opportunities for partnerships and growth. It’s essential to approach networking with sincerity and a willingness to learn and share, paving the way for impactful and mutual professional development. Networking‌ is about nurturing relationships that can pivotally shape your career path.

Meg Tibayan, Co-Founder, Bright Sprouts

Attend Holistic Health Fairs

In the incense and crystal industry, attending trade shows and holistic health fairs has been invaluable for networking. These events are not just about showcasing products like incense sticks or crystal pendants; they’re a hub for meeting suppliers, retailers, and fellow enthusiasts. 

I make it a point to engage with as many people as possible, exchange contact information, and follow up with a personalized message after the event. 

Joining online forums and even social media groups dedicated to incense and crystal healing has also been beneficial. Sharing insights, asking questions, and contributing to discussions can establish your reputation as a knowledgeable and passionate industry member. 

Finally, offering to collaborate on projects or contribute to blogs can open doors to new relationships and opportunities. The key is to be genuine and show a real interest in others’ work, not just what you can gain from the connection.

Daniel Bunn, Director, Incensen

Participate Actively in Gaming Events

Diving into the gaming industry’s networking scene can unlock incredible opportunities, particularly at events and conferences.

I’d say these gatherings are fantastic for meeting a diverse mix of professionals, from developers to marketers. Try to do your best to actively participate, whether through discussions, panel memberships, or exchanging contacts.

Moreover, online platforms offer valuable networking spaces. LinkedIn and niche gaming forums facilitate interactions with industry experts, allowing for the exchange of insights and monitoring of trends.

Marin Cristian-Ovidiu, CEO, Online Games

Offer Help at Networking Events

I have had a long history of successful networking in the professional services industry. In-person networking never really went away. It is still the best way to network.

The advice that I would give to anyone at a networking event is to summon up your courage and start a conversation by seeing how you might help someone. Most people are appreciative of an offer of help if made sincerely and with the express intent that you will actually follow through with the offer.

It is important to think “outside the box” when looking for places to make connections since you never know where your next opportunity will come from.

Dr. Paul Dillon, President and CEO Dillon Consulting Services LLC and Adjunct Instructor, Sanford School of Public Policy, Duke University, Dillon Consulting Services LLC

By College Recruiter
College Recruiter believes that every student and recent grad deserves a great career.