Cloud ServicesProject ServicesBusiness Intelligence & DataDevelopment

How Networking Has Changed In The Digital Age

  • 7 Mar 2024

Explore networking's evolution from office chats to global digital connections

Back in ye olden days, “networking,” hardly ever reached further than across the office cubicle divider, or across a bar – it was all reliant on proximity. Before the internet came along, we were all bound by the restrictions of our inner circle, friends of friends, palming off business cards (remember those?) at stale corporate mixers or someone saying, “I know a guy who would be good for that.” 

Then the World Wide Web arrived, and all of a sudden with just a little search bar called Google and a couple of clicks, individuals, professionals, and businesses were able to expand their networks and connect with people – and potential clients - around the world. 

And this online connection was never more crucial than when the global pandemic ushered in the era of remote working and Zoom calls. But while that ease of using technology to scope out potential talent, and their experience and qualifications has been of great benefit to recruiters, Crew believes it should complement rather than replace in-person networking. 

‘Not through technology alone’ - getting the balance right 

While we can now connect with someone on LinkedIn, we can’t connect entirely with a person – or potential candidate – through a screen or just a carefully crafted CV, says Crew recruitment consultant Courtney Shea. 

“The past few years with COVID and lockdown has really shown us that relationships and genuine, authentic connections – especially with our clients and candidates cannot be fostered through technology alone. 

“While Zoom is undoubtedly helpful, showing up in person to meet someone face to face - whether that’s over a drink or lunch - cultivates far more of an authentic connection than online ever will.”  

Courtney says the digital arena now offers a solution to the issue of reaching people from all corners, and all walks of life – but we're still faced with a significant barrier to real, holistic networking: time.  

“That’s especially true in our industry where it’s our job to confidently vouch for our candidates. It’s essential we have a firsthand understanding of their capabilities as opposed to relying solely on their online presence.” 

And with the arrival of the internet for job seekers, of course, notice boards or signs in shop windows were out and Seek, Trade Me and LinkedIn were in. But while online networks are the go-to for discovering job opportunities in 2024, lots are still not immediately advertised publicly – and once they are, potential candidates may have already been shoulder-tapped for the positions. Having a mutual connection can significantly increase the chances of securing a job, as referrals often carry substantial weight in recruitment processes – which is why those real life meet ups between recruiters and candidates are more important now than ever before. 

Tips for networking in the digital age 

Don’t be threatened by AI! Take advantage of it 

For professionals who network for a living, don’t worry – AI isn’t here to steal your job!  

AI is an incredibly useful tool for businesses to free up time for those real-world opportunities to connect. It can assist in writing job adverts, typing emails or admin tasks. And for job seekers, it can assist you with writing CVs and cover letters. Look into how AI can help run your business – or your personal brand - better and use it to tackle those little jobs that can be real time suckers. That way you can work smarter, not harder – and use that saved time to go out and create real connections with people. 

Be aware of the challenges of solely using digital networking 

The digital world is rife with a myriad of jobs and job seekers. While this is great for opportunities for both parties – it can lead to information overload. It can also be difficult to gauge authenticity or credibility via a “connect or “follow” alone, which can muddy the waters of genuine networking. Digital networking can also sometimes feel impersonal, as the absence of face-to-face interactions can lead to misunderstandings or lack the depth that in-person meetings often offer. 

It’s also crucial to avoid relying heavily on a single platform for networking as algorithms are forever changing, which has the risk of potentially disrupting one's networking strategy. 

Plus, the continuous influx of messages, notifications, and updates can become distracting, leading to reduced productivity and networking fatigue. 

Hone in on fostering real relationships, not just through a screen 

At Crew, one of our values is the importance of community – which relies on creating meaningful relationships and connections with people. So that's why it's more important than ever to show up, meet face-to-face and get to know the person behind the profile. 

After a few back-and-forth emails or phone calls, meet up for a coffee because you’ll get so much more investment – from both parties - out of that in-person interaction. 

Navigate the networking maze with Crew

It's clear that the digital age has transformed the way we network, providing us with tools and platforms that connect us across the globe. Yet, as we've explored, these online interactions, while valuable, cannot fully substitute for the depth and authenticity of in-person connections. At Crew, we champion the balance between leveraging technology and nurturing real, human connections. If you're finding the vast digital networking maze a challenge to navigate alone, or if you're on the lookout for the right role or the perfect candidate but can't seem to bridge the gap, we're here to help. Our expertise lies in not just connecting people, but in creating meaningful, lasting relationships that thrive both online and off.

Get in touch with Crew today