Meeting someone for the first time can be an intimidating experience, but establishing relationships through various networking channels is the first step to success for many eager job seekers. Networking is also a great tool for established business professionals, as it can help them grow their client base, make meaningful connections with other players in their industry, and onboard new employees, among other benefits.
To gain a better understanding of the effectiveness and benefits of different networking avenues, we interviewed business professionals about their favorites and their biggest takeaways after participating in a networking event or spending time on an online platform. We also inquired about social media websites and the benefits each of the biggest platforms offer and touched on respondents' usage of the popular communication app Clubhouse. Read on to learn more about why networking is a crucial activity in the business world.
Before our lives went totally digital due to the pandemic, the most common networking avenue was attending career fairs (as voted by 61% of respondents). Attending one is a great opportunity to branch out professionally, since they give people a chance to meet potential employers, mentors, and peers up close and personal. You'll also have numerous chances to practice your interview skills by perfecting your handshake, maintaining eye contact, and chatting with a handful of company representatives (many of which might inform you of their company's job openings and hiring processes). That being said, online networking has always had a large presence in the general networking world – even pre-pandemic, LinkedIn and Facebook were preferred by 47% and 44% of respondents, respectively.
People find networking meaningful for different reasons, but the most common reason among our respondents was new job opportunities. More than 40% of respondents said that referrals or knowledge about their field of business made networking meaningful, and a quarter of people said gaining recruits made a networking event worth it.
Our respondents reported spending an average of nine hours per month networking, suggesting that they likely attend a couple of events or do their fair share of online networking in that time frame. Those who went to events spent an average of $130 a year to attend them. While the end game for many is to land a job, there are countless other benefits to surrounding yourself with employers, mentors, and peers in your chosen industry.
Sixty-nine percent of respondents felt inspired by their networking experiences and started to think about their own business ideas. Over 60% were also thankful to have become more knowledgeable about their specific field, and just under half were happy to have developed meaningful leads.
Attending industry conferences was deemed the best option for those looking for new business ideas and was also rated the most effective choice for those wanting to expand their knowledge base. These conferences present great opportunities for companies to learn more about their competition and gain valuable feedback on their own products and designs. Among the other seven listed benefits, the most advantageous networking type was attending career fairs – we already know why they are such an effective and popular choice!
As previously mentioned, online networking is another key way for professionals to get to know one another. LinkedIn and Facebook were the most popular tools for strengthening business relationships (and also led the pack in terms of the average number of groups joined), but Twitter, Instagram, and Reddit garnered some usage as well. That being said, Facebook has developed an unfavorable reputation for bots on it's platform, and that may keep some looking to professionally network from securing genuine connections.
Regarding networking benefits specifically pertaining to social media channels, Reddit was the best for developing new business ideas and learning more about a specific field. The website is home to countless different microcommunities called "subreddits", where specific topics are discussed. There are tons of subreddits related to different business subjects, including ones dedicated to startup ideas and entrepreneurship.
LinkedIn was the leading networking platform for several other benefits, including developing leads, referrals, and especially finding new jobs. Twitter was most effective for finding and building relationships with mentors – meanwhile, Facebook and Instagram didn't have a clear-cut lead in any category.
Clubhouse is a social media communication platform that can host up to 5,000 people in a single chat room, where participants can speak and listen to others. Different chat rooms are created for different topics, and the industry using the platform the most was the construction and manufacturing industry. The other top three, in order, were finance and insurance, technology, and education.
Participation on Clubhouse is by invitation only. Fifty-three percent of users were invited by a friend, a quarter joined because of a current or former co-worker, just under a fifth got the nod from professional acquaintances, and 4% were given the green light to join from a classmate. Three-quarters of respondents who'd used the application have hosted their own room before, and almost all said they used the app at least once a month for networking purposes.
The most popular discussion subject on Clubhouse was sports, according to half of our respondents. Languages and the arts were also a hot topic for over 40% of people. Other common interests included wellness, technology, and life in general. While iPhone users were among the first to enjoy Clubhouse, Android users had to wait patiently for the company to roll out a version for their phones. Luckily, Clubhouse announced that a worldwide expansion designed specifically for Android owners would be available in May of 2021.
As we now know, there are lots of different networking mediums available for business professionals to broaden their horizons. Even in the pre-pandemic world, major platforms such as LinkedIn and Facebook were among the most popular ways to build meaningful business relationships. That being said, career fairs were the clear favorite, as in-person interactions seemed to offer more benefits than online exchanges – including allowing people to practice their interview and general mingling skills.
The top benefits of networking were agreed to be the generation of new business ideas, as well as increased knowledge of a given industry. Social media platforms, especially Reddit, promote networking opportunities and benefits like the two previously mentioned. Also, the up-and-coming communication app Clubhouse has drawn the attention and interest of many, with almost all users using the app at least once a month for networking purposes.
Skynova has all the tools a small business needs to look professional, stay organized, and succeed. For all things related to invoicing and accounting, their simple yet effective modules work together to provide a seamless online experience. We also like to produce thought-provoking articles that we hope our customers enjoy reading. These usually cover business or workplace topics while incorporating another aspect of society (in this case, the wide world of networking). We use both primary and secondary research to build our write-ups to ensure that our final product is both engaging and insightful.
We surveyed 1,007 people who have engaged in networking activities either before or after the pandemic. 57% of respondents identified as male, and 43% of respondents identified as female.
To help ensure that all respondents took our survey seriously, they were required to identify and correctly answer an attention-check question.
These data rely on self-reporting by the respondents and are only exploratory. Issues with self-reported responses include, but aren't limited to, the following: exaggeration, selective memory, telescoping, attribution, and bias. All values are based on estimation.
At the next networking event you attend, you'll blow employers out of the water with your newfound knowledge! If you know someone who might also benefit from our findings, feel free to send this article their way. We just ask that you do so for noncommercial use only and to provide a link back to the original page so contributors can earn credit for their work.