Highly Effective Networking: Jim Dimovski Of Vaco On 5 Strategies for Successful Networking, Both Online and Offline

An Interview With Athalia Monae

Athalia Monae
Authority Magazine


Diversify and Be Strategic About Networking Events

The art of networking is pivotal in today’s interconnected world. Establishing meaningful connections can accelerate career growth, foster collaborations, and create opportunities that might otherwise remain hidden. Yet, the dynamics of networking are intricate, often requiring a nuanced blend of authenticity, strategy, and adaptability. And with the digital revolution, networking has transcended beyond face-to-face interactions to virtual platforms, expanding its scope and complexity. In this series, we would like to discuss the art and science behind effective networking. We are talking to seasoned professionals, career coaches, networking experts, and thought leaders who’ve mastered both traditional and online networking techniques. As part of this series, we had the pleasure of interviewing Jim Dimovski, Senior Vice President and Executive Partner of Vaco, a leading global talent solutions firm.

As senior vice president and executive partner at Vaco, Jim Dimovski focuses on strategic growth for offices across the U.S. and Canada. Jim has more than 27 years of professional experience, 20 of which are in progressive leadership roles in the recruitment and staffing industry. Jim has a diverse background, having worked at several Fortune 500 companies and a global recruitment and risk consulting firm. He’s played a key role in the development of Vaco’s career progression program, including aiding in talent attraction and retention efforts. Jim helped lead Vaco’s first foray into the Canadian market in 2017, and his involvement with U.S. offices showcases his ability to rally, organize and lead teams across North America. Culture is a pivotal aspect of Jim’s leadership. He is committed to creating a genuinely engaging and supportive workplace where everyone feels welcome and heard. He emphasizes fair treatment, firm commitment and fosters a sense of authentic comradery. Jim has been instrumental in driving diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives across Vaco and collaborating with community organizations to create meaningful partnerships where Vaco can give back.

With expertise in accounting and finance, IT and digital, and HR and operations, Vaco delivers critical talent solutions to our clients by providing contract staffing, managed services, direct-hire staffing and executive search services. Vaco annually ranks as one of the Best Staffing Firms to Work For. For more information, visit vaco.com.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series. Before we dive into our discussion about networking, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?

As a communications major in college, I ventured into a mix of communications and operations roles in my early career. I thoroughly enjoyed being a part of a sales environment in various operational capacities and eventually progressed into management roles. Being a child of immigrants to North America, and witnessing my parents’ struggles and adaptation to a new culture, profoundly influenced my career choices. The desire to help people with their careers and assist them in finding meaningful employment has been a consistent driving force for me. Choosing to build my career in the professional recruitment and staffing sector felt like a natural fit, and working to find the right job match for individuals created a positive domino effect. What I love about this people-oriented industry is the opportunity to contribute to others’ prosperity and help them discover rewarding opportunities. This combination of my academic foundation, professional growth and passion for making a positive impact has been instrumental in shaping a fulfilling career path.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

Early in my career, I was under the guidance of a manager who was transitioning out of their role. At that time, my title was a specialist, and the next rung on the ladder was a supervisor. There was no clear roadmap to understand what I needed to do to be promoted. It was during a pivotal conversation about the path to becoming a supervisor that everything changed. I learned that stepping into the role meant embodying the responsibilities and mindset of a supervisor from the outset. That defining moment became the cornerstone of my career. I forged a strong connection with my manager, aligning myself to provide support that exceeded the boundaries of my job description. Understanding my manager’s objectives and being accountable beyond my role became second nature. Consequently, I found myself seamlessly stepping in when my boss was away, and taking on the role of an acting manager. This approach propelled my career forward — I consistently operated at a level above my current position. Promotion was inevitable because I had already internalized the demands and expectations of that higher role. It became ingrained in my mentality to always think and act at the level I aspired to be in.

You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success?

  1. Having a positive, can-do attitude is the first step to any type of success. Instead of fixating on the minutiae of how something will get done, I focus on taking action and engage a “we’ll get it done” approach with my team. Having that type of purpose and resolve drives progress and keeps the team motivated.
  2. Secondly, perseverance and resilience are key in today’s competitive business environment. Confronted with roadblocks, I embraced them as challenges to overcome rather than barriers. This tenacity allowed me to push forward relentlessly, navigating obstacles and bouncing back from failures until reaching the desired outcome.
  3. Finally, being team-oriented and fostering strong relationships is crucial. Going beyond the conventional employer-employee dynamic, I take time to make individuals feel valued and appreciated for their contributions. Building strong professional relationships and acknowledging the efforts of those around me has created an environment where everyone feels respected and motivated to excel. This emphasis on relationships has been a cornerstone of my leadership approach.

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. Let’s begin with a basic definition so that we are all on the same page. How exactly do you define “Networking?” Is it just about meeting new people?

Networking goes beyond merely meeting new people. At its core, networking is building professional relationships that provide mutual benefit — both in giving and receiving support. In the early stages of your career, the focus might lean towards seeking guidance and connections from someone who’s more established in their career. As time goes on, though, it evolves into a dynamic where each person in the relationship can provide value to the other. It’s about identifying skill sets, helping others and fostering genuine connections that can eventually transform into friendships. This process thrives on reciprocity — not solely centered on expanding your network, but nurturing and strengthening your existing relationships, too. If you approach networking from a self-serving standpoint, don’t be surprised if you don’t get very far. Instead, focus on how you can help others, and the skills or connections you have that may be beneficial to them. Engaging in this type of collaborative, genuine approach to networking will be far more rewarding in the long run.

In today’s digital age, how important is face-to-face networking, and how do you balance it with online networking?

In-person networking is incredibly important in today’s digital world. There’s a unique energy in personal interactions that simply can’t be replicated online. In-person networking offers an unparalleled opportunity to build trust quickly. The nuances of body language and the multi-dimensional nature of communication foster a deeper level of connection that’s harder to achieve virtually. Conversely, online networking has its own importance and advantages. While it might require more investment and effort to nurture relationships online, it’s undeniably a valuable avenue. The digital realm provides flexibility and allows for a larger network, enabling connections across time zones and distance — which is particularly beneficial in our global landscape.

Balancing these two forms of networking is all about leveraging their respective strengths. In-person interactions are ideal for initiating trust and fostering deeper connections, while online networking provides convenience, accessibility and the ability to maintain connections regardless of location. Be thoughtful and strategic about who you approach in person versus online. Initiating relationships in person and maintaining them through online means can be a powerful combination. By starting with a face-to-face interaction to establish trust and rapport, and then leveraging online platforms to sustain and expand those connections, you get the best of both worlds.

How do you maintain and nurture professional relationships over time, both in person and online, to ensure they remain fruitful and mutually beneficial?

Maintaining professional relationships hinges on consistent communication and genuine engagement. Staying in touch on a regular basis is crucial for the relationship to develop, whether through occasional check-ins, sharing industry updates or quick personal messages to express interest or support. This solidifies your connection and demonstrates a genuine investment in the relationship beyond just professional gains. Fostering a sense of reciprocity is essential for the relationship to thrive. Actively listen and offer resources when possible. By showing genuine interest and support, you build a foundation of trust and mutual benefit.

For online interactions, engage through social media, share insightful content and participate in online discussions relevant to their interests. Utilizing video calls can also help bridge the gap of physical distance, leading to a more personal connection. I also try to remember important milestones and celebrate achievements to further cement the bond. Authenticity, consistent communication and a willingness to contribute to their success are keys to nurturing lasting professional relationships.

How important is personal branding when it comes to successful networking, and how can individuals develop and maintain a strong personal brand both online and in person?

When it comes to successful networking, personal branding is vital. It’s the backbone that communicates the value you offer and the benefits you bring to others. Your personal brand conveys what you can provide to your network, how you support them and what unique qualities or offerings you bring to the table.

Developing and maintaining a strong personal brand involves understanding your own mission, vision and the direction you want to steer your brand. It requires investing time and effort into crafting a deliberate portrayal of yourself — what you stand for, what you offer and the consistency with which you present these aspects, both online and in person. Supporting individuals within your network ties deeply into your personal brand. When you’re clear on your own identity and what you represent, you’re better equipped to provide value to those around you. Whether it’s sharing resources, offering expertise or connecting people with opportunities, all of this stems from the strength and clarity of your personal brand.

Managing your brand also requires consistent effort. Personal branding isn’t just about self-promotion; it’s about understanding and articulating the value you bring to others. When done right, you not only strengthen your connections but also enhance your ability to support and contribute to the success of those within your network.

What is your advice for young professionals who are just starting to build their network? How can they effectively reach out to and connect with experienced leaders in their field?

Young professionals just starting to build their professional network should begin with a strategy and specific goals in mind in terms of what they what to achieve through their network. One effective approach is to identify individuals whose career paths align with their aspirations. I recommend reaching out to them for informational interviews, and expressing genuine admiration for their achievements. Understanding what has made them successful and seeking their advice can be a compelling way to start the conversation. Rather than focusing on yourself, aim to establish a relationship by showing interest in their story and experiences. This breaks down defenses and allows for a more organic connection. Once a relationship has been established, consider leveraging these connections by asking if they know someone in their network who might have a relevant role or opening. Networking extends beyond LinkedIn, so explore various channels for reaching out, such as personalized emails or industry events.

Do you prioritize quality or quantity of connections? How do you determine when to invest more time in a particular relationship?

When it comes to prioritizing connections, I find it’s less about quality versus quantity and more about relevance. I tend to focus on connections that align with my career or personal objectives. If a relationship doesn’t contribute meaningfully to those goals, I’m less inclined to invest extensive time. Authenticity is key. Genuine connections will naturally evolve; they can’t be forced. When we click with someone and there’s mutual benefit — whether it’s personal or professional — that connection will flourish on its own. Determining when to invest more time in a particular relationship hinges on this natural chemistry and the potential for mutual growth. If it aligns with your goals and evolves organically, you’ll be more likely to invest additional time and effort in nurturing that relationship.

What are your “5 Strategies for Successful Networking, Both Online and Offline”?

1. Establish Specific Networking Goals

Networking has evolved beyond casual meetups; it’s now a strategic art form aimed at building meaningful connections. But there’s always an end goal for developing these connections — it may be to establish a connection at a company you’d like to work for, or perhaps identify a client that you can sell a product to, or identify a senior leader who could be a potential mentor. The list goes on, but the point is: there’s always a reason behind why you’re networking. Therefore, one of the most important things you can do before attending a networking event or reaching out to a potential contact online is to establish clear networking goals for yourself. And these goals may fluctuate depending on the events you attend or your online interaction with networking contacts. Once you’ve established your objectives, reach out to the organizers of an event you plan to attend and obtain the attendee list, which can help you zero in on key individuals aligned with your objectives. By familiarizing yourself with their profiles ahead of time, you can approach them purposefully, increasing the likelihood of achieving your networking goals.

2. Build Genuine Relationships

All relationships require time, effort and a high level of authenticity — and networking relationships are no different. One of the biggest missteps many professionals make in networking is to only reach out when they have a need or request. The goal should never be to acquire a certain number of networking contacts, but rather to build genuine connections with those in your network. Reach out on a regular basis, showing a sincere interest in their career or business. It’s also essential to evaluate how contacts within your network can mutually benefit each other — this may be one of the best ways to be of value to a new connection and establish credibility. Transparent communication about your intentions fosters trust and authenticity.

3. Don’t Limit Yourself to Your Peer Level

Whether attending a networking function in person or reaching out to an individual online, it can be tempting to only approach professionals at your peer level, as it can be quite daunting — especially in person — to approach senior level executives or C-suite leaders. But networking isn’t confined to peers; it’s about engaging with individuals at all organizational levels. If there’s a senior leader at an event that you’d like to meet, it’s best to identify this person ahead of time so you can research and plan your strategy of how you will approach them, as well as mutual topics of discussion. Even a simple, “I am very impressed with your career; I’d love to connect and learn more about how you got to where you are today” can be a conversation starter and very flattering to the recipient. On the flipside, it can also be important to connect with those at every level of the career spectrum. Entry-level, mid-level and senior-level individuals all offer unique perspectives.

4. Be Specific When Reaching Out Online

Reaching out to potential networking contacts online is commonplace today, but it remains very different than approaching a connection in person because you don’t have the ability to give a warm smile or strong handshake — in short, you are completely relying on your written message and profile photo to establish that connection and credibility. Whenever possible, leverage existing connections in your network to create a more familiar introduction. When there are no direct connections, clearly articulate the reason for wanting to connect. Avoid generic networking requests and be specific about your intentions, whether seeking mentorship, professional advice or simply expanding your career knowledge.

5. Diversify and Be Strategic About Networking Events

When we picture networking events, we most often think of conferences or industry events — but the majority of networking opportunities extend beyond traditional business events. Social gatherings, festivals or any personal event can be a potential networking ground. Some of the best networking connections have been made at backyard barbecues or sporting events. Because these are not traditional networking events, it’s even more important to clearly communicate your goals in these settings. Being overly clear about what you want and asking for it can lead to unexpected and fruitful connections.

What role does diversity and inclusion play in your networking approach? How do you ensure that your network is inclusive and represents a broad range of perspectives and backgrounds?

Diversity and inclusion are at the heart of my connections, shaping the richness of my own insights because of the uniqueness each person brings. I work to consciously integrate these values into my personal brand, and diversify my connections to include people from a variety of backgrounds and ethnicities. Having this variety of perspectives helps fuel innovation, creativity and learning. When forging relevant connections, it’s important to recognize that a diverse network isn’t just a checkbox, it’s a catalyst for growth. Just as various roles bring different expertise to the table, diverse ethnicities and backgrounds offer a broader spectrum of experiences and insights. I firmly believe that we learn more when we embrace this wider spectrum of viewpoints and backgrounds. Nothing can replace it.

Ensuring inclusivity in my network involves actively seeking out individuals from varied backgrounds, industries and cultures. I engage in conversations that honor different viewpoints and create spaces where everyone feels heard and valued. It’s not merely about assembling a diverse network, but fostering an environment where diverse voices thrive and contribute meaningfully.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

Having worked in the talent solutions industry for over 20 years, I’ve had the privilege of being exposed to many different corporations and their cultures. Often, there’s a disconnect between companies that are focused on their people and culture and those that are focused on their profitability and financial results. But we’re missing a big puzzle piece here because these two are not mutually exclusive — they very much go hand-in-hand: profitability plays a significant role in an engaged and successful workforce and vice versa, an engaged team directly and positively affects profitability.

Regardless of professional background or expertise, it’s critical for all employees to have an understanding of their company’s growth trajectory and profitability. This paves the way for a thriving environment, enabling organizations to reinvest in their people, programs, systems and processes, so they can continue to grow, be competitive and attract and retain the best people. My movement would be to address the gap between capitalism and thriving work environments, creating an understanding of how corporations can be successful at these two initiatives concurrently — building upon each to create a successful, profitable organization that attracts top talent and maintains an attractive corporate culture.

How can our readers further follow you online?

I can be found on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/jimdimovski/

Thank you for the time you spent sharing these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!

About the Interviewer: Athalia Monae is a product creator, published author, entrepreneur, advocate for Feed Our Starving Children, contributing writer for Entrepreneur Media, and founder of Pouches By Alahta.



Athalia Monae
Authority Magazine

Product creator, author, entrepreneur, Feed Our Starving Children advocate, Writer for Entrepreneur Media, & founder of Pouches By Alahta.