Daily BulletinDaily Bulletin

The Conversation

  • Written by Libby Sander, Assistant Professor of Organisational Behaviour, Bond Business School, Bond University
Research shows networking is painful, but it can be a lot better

Is it enough to throw a group of people together, give them a name badge and hope for the best? Research suggests it isn’t.

Forming and maintaining strong professional relationships is a key component of career success. These networks help individuals to access resources, information and support. But people often hate networking.

Strong networks provide a range of benefits including learning, sources of information, salary growth, innovation and a means of getting things done. Research shows that people with diverse contacts are able to access information that helps them generate better ideas.

Building professional relationships improves both quality of work and job satisfaction. As the landscape of work changes rapidly, employees are making more frequent career moves, which means that networking is a critical competency.

Networking often doesn’t work

Despite intending to meet new people in networking settings, we often don’t act on these plans. A study of MBA students at a specially organised networking event found that while 95% of attendees wanted to meet new contacts, they spent over half of the time with people they already knew.

For many, the prospect of networking is as appealing as public speaking or a trip to the dentist. In fact, research has shown that networking for the purpose of advancing our professional goals can make us actually feel dirty.

And trying to make new connections isn’t easy. Studies have shown that we tend to gravitate to people we already know, see often, or who are similar to us. This can be challenging for people trying to create new networks. It also explains why some employees feel isolated when trying to join established networks.

A recent study demonstrated that traditional networking in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields can be gendered. Women make 42% fewer contacts, spend 48% less time talking to them and make 25% fewer LinkedIn connections than their male counterparts.

What networking success looks like

So what can be done to increase the value and success of networking? The benefits of networking are influenced by the dynamics and nature of the network.

Emerging research is highlighting the interaction of the role of trust, the place and space where these events occur, and the role of hosts, to increase the effectiveness of networking. Previous studies show physical proximity to others is important in building new relationships. Employees are often encouraged to relocate to regional economic clusters (Silicon Valley, for example), join incubators and coworking spaces, and find ways to be close to other entrepreneurs, investors and customers.

But for people to form new connections, research indicates that social, not just physical barriers, need to be reduced.

One of the solutions to this are structured events to reduce these barriers and decrease search efforts to find new networks and opportunities. A recent example of this was a chartered flight from Silicon Valley to the Myriad entrepreneurship festival in Brisbane. The idea of the mid-air networking flight was to create opportunities for established entrepreneurs, investors and business leaders to network with emerging entrepreneurs, students and business people.

But for networking to succeed it needs to be more than one-off events. Studies show that individuals who receive organised introductions make a far greater number of new contacts, and make far stronger connections with these contacts, than those who received no introduction.

These findings emphasise the importance of creating opportunities for both employees and entrepreneurs to connect, beyond just bringing them together in a particular setting or event. In my research, I found that the role of a host in business incubators and coworking spaces was critical in helping to identify and create opportunities to form new and diverse networks.

The hosts of these spaces appear to play a pivotal role in a network. They identify not only those who should connect, but also ensure they are at the right stage to take advantage of the introduction. The host is also able to connect people to the right information and resources.

The success of this role appears to rest heavily on the trust embedded in these established networks. The person who is being asked to connect is more open to the meeting, knowing that the host will have determined that the meeting will be worthwhile for both parties.

Entrepreneurs rely on social ties in building new ventures, and employees rely on effective workplace networks to be innovative and perform better. These new studies show that if the physical setting as well as clear strategies to facilitate new connections and networks are right, then networking wouldn’t be such a pain.

Authors: Libby Sander, Assistant Professor of Organisational Behaviour, Bond Business School, Bond University

Read more http://theconversation.com/research-shows-networking-is-painful-but-it-can-be-a-lot-better-96854

'Living fossils': we mapped half a billion years of horseshoe crabs to save them from blood harvests

arrow_forward

Join us for #BlackLivesMatter in the Asia Pacific – a free, live-streamed event

arrow_forward

The Conversation
INTERWEBS DIGITAL AGENCY

Politics

Prime Minister Interview with Ben Fordham, 2GB

FORDHAM: Thank you very much for talking to us. I know it's a difficult day for all of those Qantas workers. Look, they want to know in the short term, are you going to extend JobKeeper?   PRI...

Scott Morrison - avatar Scott Morrison

Prime Minister Scott Morrison interview with Neil Mitchell

NEIL MITCHELL: Prime minister, good morning.    PRIME MINISTER: Good morning, how are you?   MICHELL: I’m okay, a bit to get to I apologise, we haven't spoken for a while and I want to get t...

Scott Morrison - avatar Scott Morrison

Prime Minister Interview with Ben Fordham

PRIME MINISTER: I've always found that this issue on funerals has been the hardest decision that was taken and the most heartbreaking and of all the letters and, you know, there's been over 100...

Scott Morrison - avatar Scott Morrison

Business News

Understanding Your NextGen EHR System and Features

NextGen EHR (Electronic Health Records) systems can be rather confusing. However, they can offer the most powerful features and provide some of the most powerful solutions for your business’s EHR ne...

Rebecca Stuart - avatar Rebecca Stuart

SEO In A Time of COVID-19: A Life-Saver

The coronavirus pandemic has brought about a lot of uncertainty for everyone across the world. It has had one of the most devastating impacts on the day-to-day lives of many including business o...

a Guest Writer - avatar a Guest Writer

5 Ways Risk Management Software Can Help Your Business

No business is averse to risks. Nobody can predict the future or even plan what direction a business is going to take with 100% accuracy. For this reason, to avoid issues or minimise risks, some for...

News Company - avatar News Company



News Company Media Core

Content & Technology Connecting Global Audiences

More Information - Less Opinion