When you are trying to make a contribution, there is not shortcut – particularly if you are not part of an ‘old boys network’ automatically getting your foot into the door – instead you have to start with becoming skilled. This takes practice and effort. Nothing more, nothing less.
Take the wildlife artist who can show a progression from school day sketches to celebrated conservation art: see link
Or the ESG researcher who has worked their way up to be in charge of a whole department: see link
The question then becomes not “who do you know” but “what can you do”. That is far more fair on all involved.