It’s the most convenient way, but it’s not the only way.
When you think of networking for the purpose of career advancement, your first assumption is using business-oriented websites like LinkedIn, right? It’s not unusual; it’s called “networking” after all, and both LinkedIn and the internet itself are networks. But speaking as someone who’s done their fair share of networking through LinkedIn, I can’t say I especially care for it. It is convenient, and it can be good for getting your name out there, but social media in general can be extremely finicky and tiresome.
This is why, rather than doing all of your networking through a site like LinkedIn, you should try to only do the first step on a site, then take the initiative yourself. LinkedIn is a convenient way to connect to other people both in your sphere and outside of it, but instead of keeping your interactions with them exclusively on the site, you should go a step beyond the simple professional connection.
For example, if you know someone you’ve connected with has a birthday coming up, wish them a happy birthday! You don’t need to buy a gift or anything, just a simple gesture to say “hey, I’m thinking of you and I value our relationship.” Lots of little gestures like that add up over time, helping to keep your name in your connection’s consciousness.
Even if your relationship isn’t necessarily a positive one, you can still go beyond basic binary interactions. For instance, let’s say you have a job interview over the phone, but it ends up not working out. You’re probably not going to be in much of a mood to keep talking with that person, but you should still send them a thank you note and an offer to stay in contact. If they get another position open, you’ll be on their mind. If you’re not looking for work, then they’re at least another professional connection with your name on their mind.
Networking doesn’t need to be a matter of just clicking and responding to notifications. Remember, every profile has a real face behind it, and getting to know those faces will take you a long way.