The Art of Networking: Building Genuine Connections

Video call for employment networking on Zoom with talent search company

In today’s interconnected world, networking (not to be confused with social networking) has become an essential skill for personal and professional growth. As a team of recruiters, we know this firsthand from personal experience, and there are many studies to back that up, as well (like this one!).

However, to be successful, it’s crucial to understand what networking truly means and what it doesn’t. Far too often, people perceive networking as a means to an end: they’re simply reaching out to a connection when they need something. This approach both rubs the recipient the wrong way and fails to foster a genuine relationship. Real networking, on the other hand, is all about building connections.

The Problem with Opportunistic Networking

Consider this scenario: You have a connection with whom you’ve worked closely in the past, but they never responded to any of your outreaches to stay in touch, despite the relationship you shared. Now, out of the blue, they’ve emerged from the woodwork seeking help with a job search–with no acknowledgement of those previously ignored messages. This very thing happened to a member of our team! And stories like this, unfortunately, are not uncommon.

Does this kind of approach make for a strong and lasting relationship?

Does it make the recipient genuinely want to help?

The answer to both is probably not.

The reason is quite simple–this person has shown no interest in maintaining the relationship itself; their only interest lies in leveraging the connection when it benefits them. Such opportunistic networking can damage your reputation and erode trust within your professional network.

Interactions like this give networking a bad name. Staying connected doesn’t have to be superficial or opportunistic. Its true purpose is to build and nurture meaningful relationships that benefit both parties involved. It’s about fostering a sense of trust and reciprocity. 

Building Genuine Connections

So, how can you avoid a similar faux pas and network more effectively and authentically? Below are some tips to help you build genuine connections that stand the test of time.


Take a moment to check in with your connections. Show genuine interest in their well-being, both personally and professionally. Ask about their current projects, challenges, and achievements. A simple “How have you been?” can go a long way in demonstrating your sincere interest. And if you notice a promotion or new job, a message of congratulations is always welcome. 

Quarterly Outreach

Consider making it a habit to reach out to all or a portion of your network once a quarter, just to stay in touch. Share updates about your own endeavors and inquire about theirs. This regular communication helps maintain the connection and keeps you on each other’s radar.

Responsiveness is Key

If someone reaches out to you, be responsive. Responsiveness is a fundamental aspect of effective networking. If you want to be heard and respected in your network, remember that it’s a two-way street. Promptly reply to messages, offer assistance when you can, and show that you value the relationship.

Why is all of this important? It’s no secret that one of the benefits of building a network is to be able to tap into it when job-seeking, but opportunities don’t end there. When you build strong relationships, you can leverage them for career/business advice, fundraising support, spreading brand awareness, maybe the occasional favor (discounts anyone?), and so much more.

If you haven’t done the work, your resources are limited. Take it from a team of seasoned recruiters at Pivotal: we maintain relationships not only to benefit our professional connections, but also to have a robust network to recruit from. Imagine the potential when you stay in touch and front of mind with a large group of professionals–you certainly won’t regret it! 

In Conclusion

Networking is not merely a transactional activity where you extract value when needed. It’s about building authentic, lasting relationships based on trust, reciprocity, and mutual interest. By taking the time to check in on your connections, maintaining regular outreach, and being responsive, you can cultivate a network that not only supports your goals but also enriches your professional and personal life. Genuine networking is a skill that pays dividends in the long run and helps you create meaningful connections that stand strong, even when you’re not seeking immediate assistance.