Networking goes beyond exchanging contact information and business cards — it plays a vital role in building meaningful professional relationships with various agencies and individuals. By giving you a chance to explore diverse opportunities, meet people in your field, and develop long-lasting professional connections, networking is a critical component in building a successful social work career.
However, knowing where to find the networking opportunities that will boost your career can be challenging. Great news — we’re here to help!
Networking Events for Social Workers
The social work community is vibrant, welcoming, and ready to help you along your journey, but you might be wondering which events will help you the most and where you’ll be able to make the right connections. To help you make great professional connections, we’ve rounded up five unique networking opportunities that offer social workers and social work students the chance to make lasting and meaningful connections. Read on to see what made the list!
1. NASW National Conference
The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) holds an annual conference that provides opportunities for professional development, continuing education, and networking with social workers from across the country. During the conference, there are different sessions where attendees can meet other social work professionals from all over the country. Networking can also be done in the exhibit hall where you can try your luck at winning prizes while getting to know other conference attendees and learning from exhibitors.
Pro tip: NASW also offers smaller gatherings such as conferences and events at the state level. These events provide an opportunity for students to network locally and stay-up-to-date with state level policies.
2. NASW Virtual Events
In recent months, as many in-person events have been canceled, there have been a growing number of virtual events that are offered. These can provide the same benefits as attending an in-person conference or face-to-face meetings and connections. NASW is holding online webinars, workshops, and continuing education opportunities on their website. These virtual events cover a range of topics, including ethics, specialty practices, diversity, self-care, and social justice. Social workers from all over the nation attend, providing an opportunity to meet others and network virtually.
3. Advocacy Day at the Austin Capital
Held every year in the spring, Advocacy Day allows social work students to gain valuable experience by engaging with legislators and aides, networking with other social workers, and attending presentations on controversial issues. Overall, Advocacy Day provides the opportunity to participate in the legislative process, understand the impact this has on social work, and build important civic connections.
4. National Conference on Race and Ethnicity (NCORE)
At a time when many social workers are helping to bring healing to racial and social tensions, NCORE serves as a critical learning and networking opportunity for social work professionals. The mission of the conference is to "Allow people and institutions to find effective strategies promoting access, social development, education, positive communication, and cross-cultural understanding in diverse settings”.
Although this conference is geared toward individuals in the realm of higher education, it offers a platform for all attendees to dialogue about race and ethnicity, and to discuss many of the issues social workers encounter during their advocacy.
LinkedIn provides a free way to connect digitally and build a professional network with people from all over the world. As virtual connections become increasingly important, this is a good way to stay connected with the social workers you meet at conferences and to help locate other social workers in your area. LinkedIn also offers a simple way to find new job opportunities and allows you to maintain a digital resume — ready for recruiters and potential employers.
Networking in Everyday Life
While these are only a few of the many networking opportunities provided for graduate students and working professionals, it’s important to remember that any event can be a networking opportunity. Networking can happen anywhere and anytime.
Happen to sit next to a fellow social worker on the plane? Network!
Working or interning at an agency with various staff and personnel? Network!
Meet someone who is working at your dream agency? Network!
These are all opportunities to build professional connections, develop your skills, or find your niche. Never underestimate the power of networking and genuine connection, it could lead you to exciting opportunities and open surprising doors.
Discover New Opportunities at Baylor University!
The community at the Diana R. Garland School of Social Work is eager to help you build your network and guide you to a successful and meaningful career. We know that launching your career may feel daunting at times, but we want to help ease your concerns and assist you on your path to becoming a social work professional. If you have questions about pursuing a career in social work, or would like to learn more about our programs, we invite you to request more information and a member of our team will reach out to chat about your goals!