92% of business people say that networking is a key part of professional development and business success, yet 96% of the same group say we can improve our networking skills.
The results are from a survey conducted by The Icehouse, an organisation which helps Kiwi businesses to grow.
The Icehouse surveyed New Zealand business people to gain insights on attitudes and habits when it comes to networking and received just over 140 responses.
The Icehouse CEO Andy Hamilton says the majority (79%) of respondents relate networking to building vital contacts.
“The results show 40% of us primarily network to generate lead opportunities, 24% are looking for new suppliers or contacts to assist them and 9% are trying to progress their career.”
“The majority of us value connecting with someone who is looking for mutual benefit from the new relationship.”
“This tells us that we aren’t just networking for the sake of making new friends. We are doing it for a reason; to help our business, drive sales or perhaps climb the career ladder,” says Hamilton.
And despite living and operating in a digital world, the survey showed eight out of 10 people still prefer to network in person, be it through our jobs, industry events or professional organisations or societies.
Andy Hamilton says only 8% of respondents chose social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn as their preferred method of networking but that this statistic will be one to watch over time as we continue to increase our reliance on technology to do business.
“Although we prefer to network in person, two thirds of us acknowledge that social media has made networking easier – even if three quarters of us haven’t met all our contacts on LinkedIn!” he says.
Andy Hamilton says the survey shows that networking to drive business growth is firmly on the radar for most people and the fact that 90% say we need to make more of an effort to build our professional networks means we should expect to see business people improving their skills and doing more to connect.
“Networking has traditionally been coined as a ‘sleazy’ term, but we are seeing Kiwi business owners embracing the concept and understanding the value it can bring to them personally and professionally.”
“However you are networking in business, whether it is in person or online, always be sure to add value to the relationship so it’s beneficial for both parties – you don’t want to build a reputation as someone who takes and doesn’t give back,” says Hamilton.
Andy Hamilton says the survey showed we are respectful and helpful to others in our network and this should be something Kiwis strive to continue and improve.
“Generally we are a polite and friendly bunch, 78% of us will follow up with contacts we meet and two thirds of us will try and facilitate meetings between people in our network who we think would benefit from meeting,” he says.
The survey showed that Kiwis aren’t hesitant when we need help, 73% of us have reached out to our network for assistance with a work issue.
“The fact we aren’t scared to reach out for help in a business sense is a great sign. Asking for help is one of the best ways to improve our business and when we do it, could mean uncovering hidden opportunities,” says Hamilton.
Andy Hamilton says The Icehouse has a goal to enable 1,000 businesses of international quality to be created by 2020 and facilitating effective networking between businesses is a huge part of driving toward this goal.
“The ability to connect easily in a business community is vital to success. Tapping into and leveraging key contacts is an important thing to do to assist with growth and development.”
“The Icehouse regularly assists people in our network to connect and we’re looking at ways to better facilitate and make the process easier for those people,” says Hamilton.
“By looking at ways we can expand our networking capabilities means we can allow easier flow of information in the business eco-system to help Kiwi organisations and our economy grow."