So, what exactly are the best characteristics of a great networker?
Out of 3400 surveys (57% men and 43% women), the majority of the respondents were between ages of 30 and 59. Respondents were asked about 20 different characteristics on networking. They were asked specifically what the top behaviours they would like to see in a great networker. From this, BNI identified the Top 7 Characteristics. This one was presented in our networking group by Joanne Kirk, Investment Advisor and Life and Critical Disability Insurance Advisor. Thanks for these great tips, Joanne! Her source was Business Network International (BNI).
What do you think the least most valued characteristic were for networking? Keep reading to the end!
Here they are in reverse order…
Still very important but not the number 1… Number 7, is to be approachable. People will forget what you said and what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel. This seems like a very obvious statement. However, I think it is underutilized in networking, especially as it relates to putting a massive focus on making the other person or people feel good. This is about not just showing up and having a conversation but actually setting an intent and being deliberate about making them feel good!
The 6th spot was taken by being trustworthy. This comes down to people knowing that they can refer to you. When people refer to us they give away a little bit of their reputation. Just as when you referred to others you are putting your reputation online. We need to have trust so that we know, when we are giving away a little bit of our reputation, that our reputation will not be soiled.
Number 5 goes to doing follow-ups. Someone once said the fortune lines in the follow-up. So be sure to follow-up after you network and remember the follow-up isn’t necessarily to sell them something. Rather spend your time checking in with them, giving them something they asked for even if it isn’t your product or service, be a great connector, perhaps you could send them a blog or video that you have written or even someone else. This lends you credibility and they will learn not to be afraid of your emails or phone calls. In time, you can make your ask.
It’s a wonder this wasn’t in the first position; however, these items still made the list in position 4, being sincere and authentic. People pick up when you are not sincere or authentic. Faking it isn’t sustainable and people read through it.
Heading into our TOP 3 Characteristics of a Great Networker
Holding our #3 position is, a great networker helps others and collaborates. People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Helping show you care can be done in a variety of ways from emailing a helpful article to someone to putting them in touch with a person who can help with a specific challenge. This builds trust and a strong relationship. Avoid “being in it for yourself.” Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Life’s most Urgent question is, what are you doing for others?”
In the #2 spot is having a positive attitude. Having a positive attitude encourages people to associate with you, it’s like a magnet. So stay positive when you are networking and live in possibility.
And the # 1 most important quality… It is being a good listener. Our success in networking depends on how much we can listen and learn. We have two ears and one mouth, use them accordingly! I once heard a great networker say, if THEY are talking, THEY are probably buying.
Now, what are the BOTTOM 5 characteristics that respondents said were not as valuable?
The 5th least important skill is being fearless/confident. Extroverts might appear more confident but this was not the most important. Introverts, keep on networking even if it is outside your comfort zone.
Asking for the sale, the 4th least important. Be careful of this! Too often we are asking for the sale too soon in networking. Be patient, even if this person doesn’t want what we have to offer doesn’t mean they don’t know somebody else who might be interested.
Being a self-promoter was the 3rd least important thing. While it might seem counterintuitive, the answer is easy. For networking to be effective it has to be about the relationship not the transaction.
The 2nd least important skill was directness. Being direct in business dealings is often considered to be an attirubte. However, when it comes to networking, it seems to be viewed more as pushy, which is clearly not a strength in building relationship.
And the #1 Least important skill is being social media savvy and using online methods to network. Many people think that networking online is almost all they need to network effectively, in fact, research is showing the exact opposite. Online networking has great value, but it does not replace face to face networking. Not surprisingly, it ranked dead last by 3400 business people around the world.
Okay okay, but what about the younger generations? Even the under 30 crowd even ranked this characteristic second to last. Seriously. Even the young business people, who are prone to be tech savvy, understand that social media skills are not an indicator of great networking ability.