A networking study says Facebook counts

Networking isn’t the nightmare we think it is

Making friends with strangers to advance your career sounds scary, but new research says it’s not as hard as it sounds — and we aren’t as bad at it as we think.

Staffing firm OfficeTeam surveyed more than 300 senior managers about making (and keeping) professional contacts. Here’s what they thought is the worst networking mistake people make…

  • Not asking for help when you need it (42 percent)
  • Not keeping in touch with contacts (28 percent)
  • Not thanking people for their help (17 percent)
  • Not providing help when others need it (7 percent)
  • Burning bridges with past employers (6 percent)

If our biggest problem is not actually tapping our networks for help, then we’re not doing too bad, right? Or at least our bosses don’t think we are. We obviously need to work on staying in touch and expressing gratitude — but those aren’t challenging tasks, according to the survey.

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The most effective way to network is online, according to nearly half of survey participants. The next-best thing is lunch or coffee, which about a quarter of participants said was most effective.

Local networking events, professional associations, and shared hobbies made up the rest. They’re all valuable methods of building a good network, according to OfficeTeam. But keeping up on Facebook or LinkedIn and sharing job openings and interesting articles goes further than you might think. That’s especially true if you follow this bit of the company’s advice…

Act quickly. Follow up with people you meet immediately after an event while the connection is fresh. Along the same lines, promptly respond to any requests that come through your network to build goodwill.

See? Networking isn’t so bad. But there’s one group of people who apparently don’t have to network at all — the people who run our networks.

A separate study by OfficeTeam sister company Robert Half Technology asked IT industry executives for the most important career advice for fresh grads. The top response was staying on top of new schools, cited by nearly half. At the bottom of the list? “Finding a mentor” and “networking,” which got just 8 percent.

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