While it might not be as effective, more and more executives are saying they prefer to network via email rather than via traditional in-person meet-and-greets, new research shows.
The study by staffing firm Robert Half Management Resources revealed that 42 percent of chief financial officers prefer to cultivate their business relationships digitally through emails, while just one-third would rather network in-person at events, meetings and conferences.
David King, president of Robert Half Management Resources in Canada, said while the ease of sending email allows professionals to connect with their contacts quickly and easily, it shouldn't be a substitute for more traditional approaches.
"Participating in face-to-face dialogue is still fundamental in developing successful connections, particularly for business development and hiring purposes," King said. "In-person meetings build rapport in a way that electronic communication cannot."
The research shows that that more executives look to professional networking for keeping up with industry developments and building business, compared with pursuits related to hiring and job searching.
Robert Half Management Resources offers several tips for those looking get the most from professional networking activities, including:
- 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 to keep the lines of communication open.
- 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.
- 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.
The research was based on surveys of 270 CFOs from companies with 20 or more employees.