Recently, I took the opportunity to gather almost 3,400 survey responses from business people around the world. I gave them a list of almost 20 different characteristics on networking and I asked them to pick the top behaviors they’d like to see. From those responses, I have identified the top characteristics of what people believe makes a great networker and have listed them here. Each one of the characteristics below ties into the notion of “farming” not “hunting.” It’s about building mutually beneficial business relationships. Only then will you succeed in creating a powerful, personal network.
- Sincere/Authentic. You can offer the help, the thanks, the listening ear, but if you are not sincerely interested in the other person, they will know it! Those who have developed successful networking skills convey their sincerity at every turn. One respondent stated that “it’s all about the authenticity” that someone shows you. We have all seen people who are seemingly good at networking but lack sincerity. Faking it isn’t sustainable.
- Follows Up. If you offer opportunities, whether a simple piece of information, a special contact, or a qualified business referral, to someone who consistently fails to follow up, you’ll soon stop wasting your time with this person. One respondent said that when it comes to networking, “the fortune lies in the follow up” and many people just “don’t follow up anymore.”
- Trustworthy. One respondent said best when she said: “it doesn’t matter how successful the person is, if I don’t trust them, I don’t work with them.” When you refer someone you are putting your reputation on the line. You have to be able to trust your referral partner and be trusted in return. Neither you nor anyone else will refer a contact to someone who can’t be trusted to handle it well.
- Approachable. One respondent said that people “will forget what you said and what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel”. Effective networking starts with approachability – everything else listed above follows from this.
As a young man, I studied under Warren Bennis, who was at the time, the world’s leading expert on leadership. He taught me that understanding the “characteristics” of a great leader is important. However, what is even more important, is understanding how to apply those characteristics. He told me; “know what you are good at and work to enhance those skills. Know what you’re not good at and surround yourself with people who can help you improve those skills”.
As with leadership, I believe that networking skills are very important. What’s even more important, however, is working to improve them and learning how to use them effectively. That’s what really counts.
What are the Top Three Characteristics?
Check out my blog from January for the top three characteristics of what people believe makes a great networker.