The Virtual Handshake - 3 Executive Networking Tips

Members of the C-suite are skipping the in-person meet-and-greet in favor of executive networking online, suggests a Robert Half Management Resources survey.* Forty-five percent of CFOs said they now prefer to cultivate business relationships via social networking sites such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. Still, one-quarter of executives interviewed favor in-person executive networking at events, meetings and conferences.

While social networking can be effective at targeting a particular audience or lead nurturing, Robert Half senior executive director Paul McDonald urges professionals not to abandon more traditional approaches.

"Having regular conversations remains essential for developing meaningful professional relationships, particularly for business development and hiring purposes," he says. "Face-to-face meetings can build rapport in a way that electronic communication cannot. Most people still want some personal familiarity before doing business."

Networking Tips

Here are three networking tips to get the most from professional networking today:

  1. Don't wait until you need something. If you reach out to contacts only when you need help, you'll weaken your ties. Keep in touch regularly by commenting on updates, offering assistance and sharing interesting news items.
  2. Strike the right balance. Meeting in person takes more time and effort but can deliver much more value over the long term. Begin relationships through one-on-one meetings, then keep in touch online and via email to continue the communication.
  3. Stay in the know. Monitor social media to keep current with industry developments and your network's reaction to them. Re-post the most relevant content to become a trusted resource among contacts.

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*Robert Half Management Resources survey of 1,400 CFOs from a stratified random sample of U.S. companies with 20 or more employees. View our infographic for the full survey results.