What Is Professional Networking? Moving from Passive to Actionable Networking

Written by Brad GambleAdam Grossman

As co-founders of The Selling Factory, they work daily to coach students to land their dream job. 

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Today’s college students are navigating a cooling job market and rampant layoffs. All while feeling anxious about the uncertainty of their upcoming career search.  

Yet, the most pressing question college students face is the same one that college students have faced for the last fifty years. 

“How do I stand out amongst my peers seeking the same job?”

Many professors, parents, and career counselors will give you the same answer – build your professional network. But most do not teach you how to do it. 

This blog outlines why a professional network is important, how it can make you stand out, and the best ways to do it. 

Why Is Building a Professional Network Important? 

Having surveyed college graduates that are 1 to 3 years into their career, the number one skill they wished they learned in college, but didn’t, was how to launch and grow a professional network. And the research shows how important having a professional network is in securing a job. 

Only 30% of open job roles are posted on online job sites like Indeed, Career Builder, and LinkedIn Jobs. That means that 70% of potential internships and full-time jobs are hidden. Yet, one of the most popular forms of finding a job is spending countless hours sending resumes to companies online. And more often than not, job seekers never hear from those companies.

A college student that takes the initiative to launch and grow a professional network leverages the most underutilized practice to unlock hidden job opportunities. The statistics show that a job candidate referred by a contact in their network is 15 times more likely to receive a job offer. 

How to Build a Professional Network to Stand Out? 

There are two ways to position yourself in the job market. These approaches we term 1) Passive Networking (One of Many) and Actionable Networking (One With Many).

Passive Networking: One of Many

Passive Networking is the more prevalent concept taught in career development. Job seekers are given tactics to enhance their resume, strengthen their interview skills, and develop their personal pitch. The goal is to prepare for career fairs, social mixers, and introductions to companies. This is the typical process that colleges use to prepare students. This leads to: 

  1. Attending career fairs alongside thousands of their peers
  2. Applying to online job postings against thousands of others
  3. Visiting pre-planned networking events where there are a few professionals trying to connect with dozens of job seekers

While Passive Networking is valuable, few gain a significant advantage. You are just One of Many doing the same thing. This results in a highly competitive environment, little differentiation, and no significant relationships to lean on during the job search. 

Actionable Networking: One With Many

A rarely used, but more effective strategy is Actionable Networking. This approach refers to an individual creating and nurturing relationships based on a mutual exchange of value. These relationships are built by oneself and not provided to them by parents, campus resources, or professors. The outcome is One With Many contacts, who will likely assist an individual during their job search. 

When an individual builds a professional network on their own, they find advocates in their job search. This sets themselves apart from their peers. And with it, you can stand out. 

Actionable Networking is the key to unlocking the hidden job market.

Actionable Networking: Rethink Your Job Searching Strategy

Industry professionals are overwhelmingly open to meeting with emerging professionals. They are willing to give advice, share knowledge, and refer hidden opportunities. Actionable Networking starts by taking the initiative to find and reach out to industry professionals you have never met. 

As the saying goes, Rome was not built in a day. Yet, it has stood the test of time. So too, in Actionable Networking, you will not build a network in a day. It takes time. You need to: 

  1. Research industries, companies, and contacts that interest a college student
  2. Outreach to contacts with personalized invitations to meet
  3. Meet with contacts to learn about them and get advice 
  4. Elevate these new relationships by providing ongoing value 

The ROME Methodology catapults you to build and nurture a professional network that will provide value and opportunities for decades to come. 

Want to Start Actionable Networking? 

The biggest hurdle to overcome is getting started. It’s difficult to add energy to something else, especially doing it on your own. Our Actionable Networking Workshop is designed with this in mind. 

The Actionable Networking Workshop is a live, virtual experience that guides college students and recent graduates through the step-by-step process of launching and growing a professional network. Our cohort-based model brings participants together in a group setting that creates collaboration and teamwork. Group and one-on-one coaching throughout helps participants gain confidence by celebrating small wins along the way, as well as holding them accountable to the outlined benchmarks at every step.

Be the One With Many rather than being One of Many. Start Actionable Networking now! 

Victoria Zamitalo

Campaign Manager

Victoria received a BA in History and Economics from the University of Florida in May 2023. She is a driven sales professional with over 5 years combined experience in customer service, consumer relations and outbound sales, and is deeply passionate about fostering close relationships between consumers and sellers. She aims to train the next generation of sales professionals in not only the tricks of the trade, but also interpersonal skills that make sales the exciting and ever-changing industry that it is.


Mia Semel

Campaign Manager

Before graduating with a B.A. in Sustainability Studies, Mia took on multiple roles while interning at The Selling Factory, including sales development, recruiting, and leading campaigns. She is an active listener and effective communicator, specializing in fostering genuine connections and finding common ground among differing perspectives. She aims to find practical, creative solutions regarding sustainable development, biodiversity and the climate crisis.


Kira Grieve

Senior Campaign Manager

Kira graduated from the University of Florida and received her Master of Science in Entrepreneurship. She is passionate about helping businesses grow and connecting with new people. Some of her hobbies include traveling and hiking. She hopes to visit all of the National Parks one day!


Jared Glosser

Vice President

After graduating from UF in 2014 with a B.A. in history, Jared started his professional career Fundraising for a non-partisan political lobby in South Florida. In 2016, Jared moved back to Gainesville to work for a non-profit, recruit students for international travel opportunities, and pursue his MBA at UF. Jared has been with The Selling Factory since 2019 focusing on operations, client onboarding, and client success.


Ian Massenburg

Chief Operating Officer

A graduate of University of Florida (B.A. 2001), Ian Massenburg brings over 18 years of sales executive and sales management experience to The Selling Factory. Before coming on-board, Ian worked alongside Brad at Infinite Energy, and then spent his next 3 years as VP of Partnerships selling SaaS products B2B. Ian brings his vast knowledge and experience to the team and to our partner companies served.


Damien Paulk

Campaign Manager

Damien is a University of Florida graduate that recently joined the team full time after working as a Sales Development Intern for one year. As a Campaign Manager, Damien looks forward to contributing to the growth and success of The Selling Factory. When Damien is not at work he enjoys exploring Gainesville with his girlfriend and dog or watching the Gators dominate college football.


Brendan Viehman

Campaign Manager

Brendan graduated from Liberty University with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Project Management. For the past 5 years, he has enjoyed working with blockchain technology and cryptocurrency development. In his free time, he surfs and makes personal finance videos for his YouTube channel.


Savannah Howard

Campaign Manager

A graduate from the University of Florida’s College of Journalism and Communications, Savannah obtained her Bachelor of Science in public relations with a concentration in French. After almost two years as a sales development intern for The Selling Factory, she joined the leadership team in 2021 taking on the role of Campaign Manager. In her free time, Savannah enjoys going to concerts and festivals and cooking for her friends and family.


Zack Kampf

Campaign Manager

Zack is a creative technologist with experience in advertising, event planning, and game design. He started as an SDR in 2018 and has been with TSF ever since. Upon graduating UF in 2019 he became a campaign manager and is currently seeking a master's degree from NYU. In his spare time, you can find him at the intersection of Art & Technology!


Josiah Blakemore

Growth Manager

Josiah has over 10 years of sales experience, worked with Brad and Ian at Infinite Energy, and also spent time selling SaaS as Director of Partnerships at SharpSpring. He’s always been very competitive and has a love for sports and games. He enjoys solving problems and coaching team members to do the same!


Sue-Ming Frauenhofer

Marketing Manager

Sue-Ming received both her B.S. in Psychology and M.S. in Management from The University of Florida. As a student, she took on multiple roles while interning at The Selling Factory, including sales development, marketing, and recruiting, eventually leading to her current role as Marketing Manager. She enjoys refining her taste in music and visual art, engaging in mindfulness and meditative practices, and frolicking outside with her sidekick pup.


Adam Grossman

Chief Development Officer

Adam is an ordained rabbi, who has founded multiple ventures focused on workforce development. Hired as CEO by a failing non-profit, in over 5 years, his ingenuity saved the organization, which led Slingshotfund.org to recognize it as one of North America’s most innovative Jewish non-profits. His expertise to identify, cultivate, and on-board talent ensures our student teams meet our partners’ needs.


Brad Gamble

Chief Executive Officer

After graduating from UF in 1999 with a B.S.B.A, Brad Gamble has dedicated himself to sales management, branding, coaching, and building companies. He served as the VP of Sales & Marketing for Infinite Energy until 2014, when he founded The Selling Factory. He has dedicated himself to teaching critical skills to tomorrow’s leaders, and helping companies achieve sales success and revenue growth.