I’ve been writing this monthly column for Entrepreneur.com for almost 15 years! After all these years, I still find that there are many misnomers about what business networking should, or shouldn’t be about. Many people think that business networking is basically about direct selling. Others think that is about relationship building. What do you think makes a great networker?
In the late 90s, I surveyed more than 2,000 people in several countries asking them what it takes to be a great networker. Back then, the top five characteristics of a great networker were:
- Follows up on Referrals
- Positive Attitude
- Good Listening Skills
Much has changed since the 1990's, including the advent of the internet, and I am curious to see if people think the traits of a great networker are different today from almost 20 years ago. Recently, I started asking hundreds of business people around the world to list all the traits that they think make a great networker today. From this open-ended survey, I received a pretty substantial list of different and distinct characteristics from my list in the 90's, including: approachability, reputation, experience, social media expertise and collaboration.
This made me wonder if the traits that people thought were important in the 90's relating to networking are still important today. Consequently, I've produced an updated survey including some of the new traits suggested by people to see what makes a great networker in this century. It will be interesting to see how, if at all, that it differs.
What do you think are the top characteristics of a great networker today? Take this really short survey and let me know. I’d particularly like any observations as to why you chose the characteristics that you did and how you see them applying to you in business. I’ll publish the results early next year.
Ivan Misner is the founder and chief visionary officer of BNI, a professional business networking organization headquartered in Charlotte, N.C. He is the co-author, with Hazel Walker and Frank De Raffele, of Business Networking and Sex: Not What You Think (Entrepreneur Press, 2012).