I was recently contacted by a reporter from a major U.S. national newspaper who said:
“I was wondering if you might be able to point me in the direction of some research that says that many people don’t like networking? I see that concept cited all over the web, but I can’t find anyone who has actually conducted a survey or done some sort of study to back it up.”
I sent her the chart in this blog, which comes from the research I did for the book: Business Networking And Sex, (not what you think). She was very surprised by these results. She said that she had always heard that people didn’t like to network and so she assumed it was true.
As you can see in the graph, over 57% of the respondents were comfortable or loved to network! Only 37% or just somewhat comfortable networking and less than 6% were uncomfortable or did not like networking. This is substantially different than the impression the news reporter had about the process.
I think there may be two reasons why she may have believed that most people don’t like to network.
- The “proximity effect.” People tend to take on some of the beliefs of people that they hang out with. Newspaper writers ‘tend’ to be around other writers and editors. They generally do not hang out with sales people and entrepreneurs. However, it is the small business person that is out there selling and networking. The writer is writing about people she doesn’t tend to be with all the time and may get a point of view about networking from other people – not entrepreneurs.
- The “I’m better at this than others effect.” One of the things we learned in doing the research for this book was that most people think “they” are better at networking than “other” people. This tends to create a belief that other people may not like it because they surely are awkward and poor at it (more to come on a future blog about this topic).
The bottom line is that the majority of business people do like to network or are somewhat comfortable networking. It is a powerful way to generate business and it sure is a whole lot more interesting that cold-calling!
How about you – do you hate to network, love to network, or something in between???