Networking in the Digital Age

Jul 21, 2023 | Career Advice, Professional Development, Student and Alumni Resources

Only a decade or so ago, networking meant attending conferences and handing out a business card to anyone that would take it. In 2023, networking has become more of a digital interaction that is limitless in its power to reach anyone; it is essential for success in any career, but it can be especially challenging in the current digital age with so many people existing and networking online.


While face to face networking has its advantages, it can be hard to gain the traction you need without also staying on top of digital networking. For those who haven’t tapped into the digital world of networking might find the following tips & tricks to be worth implementing in your professional development. If you have yet to create a LinkedIn account, now is the time to do so. With over 800 million users using the platform that is “considered the world’s preeminent social network for professionals,” LinkedIn is a perfect starting point for digital networking. 

When creating online profiles, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. Use a professional headshot or a photo that people can best see your face as your profile photo. Your online presence is important, so make sure your profile photos are up-to-date; when it comes to networking online, your profile photo is like seeing “you” for the first time for potential connections and future employers.
  2. Write a strong bio. Your bio is your chance to introduce yourself and your work to potential networking connections. Be sure to include your skills, experience, and career goals. LinkedIn makes this easy to fill in when setting up and editing your profile. Make sure that your information stays current!
  3. Be active. Don’t just sit back and wait for people to connect with you. Start out by following the quality-over-quantity approach when sending friend requests: 3-5 people you can use as a sounding board for advice and support at your most vulnerable, 5-15 people you can ask for help with specific questions, and 15-200 people who are industry related acquaintances  you can connect with from time to time. You can read more about this approach here: There’s a New Strategy for Networking in the Digital Age

Once you have created an online professional presence, digital networking is all about how you use the social media platforms you are on and how you interact with the people you connect with. You will want to make sure you are staying active, interacting strategically, and participating in relevant discussions and networking opportunities.


Tips & tricks for professionally networking in the digital age:

Use keywords. When using social media or online platforms, be sure to use relevant keywords so that you can find relevant connections and connections can find you. If you are using digital networking to advance a current career, make sure the key words you use to search for new connections are also showing up in your profile so that you are searchable to others! For those using digital networking to change or find a new career, consider making that explicit on your profile and use key words such as “open to work” or “hiring for __X__ roles” to find the most relevant connections. 

Attend online events and webinars. It is a great way to learn about new trends, share your expertise, and make new connections with likeminded people. There are a number of online events and webinars that can help you connect with other professionals; many are even held through platforms like LinkedIn and are more easily accessible than having to find the time to attend physical events and conferences. Attending these online events is also a great way to discover what skills and expertise is currently in high demand. 

Contribute to online communities. Again, when building your connections on platforms like LinkedIn, consider who you would want to be constantly in your feed. There are a number of online communities that can be joined by simply following a specific #hashtag or joining discourse groups that are specific to your industry. By using relevant keywords, to find these communities, it can be a great way to learn from others, get advice, and find relevant connections that can only help grow your digital network. Joining and contributing to online communities is also a great way to market your skills and experience as relevant and credible, something that could be an advantage for those seeking new employment. 

Reach out to people you admire. If you’re interested in working with someone or learning more about their career, don’t be afraid to reach out to them directly. Follow or subscribe to them, send them a message, and interact with their posts. Make sure you are being clear, genuine, and kind when reaching out directly with questions; Don’t just reach out to people when you need something. Be interested in getting to know them and helping them with their goals. It is also important to follow up after connecting with someone new. Say you had a great conversation with someone you met while attending a webinar; make sure to follow them and reach out to thank them for their time and expertise. This can be especially helpful for those seeking a different or new career because those who take the time to connect and thank those who make them better are often the ones remembered out of the stack of resumes.


Last but not least, be patient. Networking takes time and effort so don’t expect to build a large network overnight. If you keep your profiles consistently up-to-date, actively interact and engage with your network and other relevant communities, and contribute to your network by sharing your experiences and advice, it will only be a matter of time before your digital network has grown tenfold. Even though the online world is limitless and millions of people use it each day, remember to stick with the quality-over-quantity approach.

By being strategic about who you connect with, how you interact with those connections, and what you do with your online presence, you can have great success in professional networking in the digital age!