Last updated on April 16, 2014 at 17:34 EDT

Survey Shows Executives Prefer Social Sites for Business Connections; Business Leads Primary Purpose for Professional Networking

October 11, 2012

MENLO PARK, Calif., Oct. 11, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — Members of the C-suite are skipping the in-person meet-and-greet in favor of networking online, a new survey shows. Forty-five percent of chief financial officers (CFOs) interviewed for a Robert Half Management Resources survey said they now prefer to cultivate business relationships via social networking. One-quarter of CFOs still favor in-person networking at events, meetings and conferences. The majority of respondents (60 percent) said their primary purpose for networking is to grow business.

The survey was developed by Robert Half Management Resources, the world’s premier provider of senior-level finance, accounting and business systems professionals on a project and interim basis. It was conducted by an independent research firm and includes responses from 1,400 CFOs from a stratified random sample of U.S. companies with 20 or more employees.

CFOs were asked, “How do you prefer to network professionally?” Their responses:

    Networking online                              45%
    -----------------                             ---
    Attend professional events, meetings,
     conferences                                   25%
    -------------------------------------         ---
    Email correspondence                           22%
    --------------------                          ---
    None/don't network                              7%
    ------------------                            ---
    Other/don't know                                1%
    ----------------                              ---
    TOTAL                                         100%
    -----                                         ---

CFOs were also asked, “What is the primary purpose of your professional networking activities? Their responses:

    Grow business                             60%
    -------------                            ---
    Keep up with industry news and
     developments                             20%
    ------------------------------           ---
    Find a new job                            10%
    --------------                           ---
    Recruit new talent                         7%
    ------------------                       ---
    Other/don't know                           3%
    ----------------                         ---
    TOTAL                                    100%
    -----                                    ---

Paul McDonald, a senior executive director with Robert Half, noted that while online networking can be effective in reaching a large number of contacts, it shouldn’t replace more traditional approaches. “Having regular conversations remains essential for developing meaningful professional relationships, particularly for business development and hiring purposes,” he said. “Face-to-face meetings can build rapport in a way that electronic communication cannot. Most people still want some personal familiarity before doing business with someone or making a referral.”

Research shows that for most executives, professional networking is geared toward developing business leads (60 percent), rather than for pursuits like finding a job (10 percent) or recruiting talent (7 percent).

Robert Half Management Resources offers three tips to get the most from professional networking activities:

  1. Don’t wait until you need something. If you reach out to your network only when you need help, you’ll weaken your ties. Be visible and keep in touch on a regular basis by commenting on your contacts’ updates, offering assistance and sharing news items.
  2. Strike the right balance. Meeting in person takes more time and effort than connecting online but can deliver much more value over the long term. Develop relationships through one-on-one meetings and referrals. You can then stay in touch with contacts online or by email to keep the lines of communication open.
  3. Stay in the know. Monitor social media to keep current on industry developments and your network’s reaction to them. The information you gather can give you valuable business insight.

About Robert Half Management Resources
Robert Half Management Resources is the premier provider of senior-level finance, accounting and business systems professionals to supplement companies’ project and interim staffing needs. The company has more than 150 locations worldwide and offers online job search services at roberthalfmr.com. Follow Robert Half Management Resources at twitter.com/roberthalfmr for workplace news.

SOURCE Robert Half Management Resources

Source: PR Newswire