What do you think of when you hear the word networking? Events you feel you should attend, even though you don’t want to? Forced conversations with strangers? An exchange of business cards with someone with whom you are never sure how to follow up?
We all know networking is important to our professional success. In fact, according to LinkedIn, 85 percent of jobs come from networking, and you are 70 percent more likely to get a promotion if you have an active mentor relationship. Relationships matter, and getting better at building and nurturing them should be on everyone’s to-do list.
Take this quiz to see what type of networker you are and how to boost your skills up a notch.
1. When you are in a group at a networking event and someone says something you relate to, what do you do?
a. Say nothing
b. Say nothing but make a mental note or jot down a reminder on the back of their business card
c. Look for an opportunity to interject your thoughts into the conversation
d. Interrupt with enthusiasm about the fact that you have something in common
2. When a new person wanders over to the group you are speaking with, what do you do?
b. Shift your body to give them room in the circle, make eye contact, or smile
c. Wait for an opportunity to bring them into the conversation by asking their opinion on something specific
d. Stop the conversation and welcome them into the group
3. How many meals do you share with a different person each week?
b. 1 to 3
c. 4 to 6
d. 7 or more
4. How many different organizations, groups, or clubs are you an active member in?
b. 1 to 2
c. 3 to 5
d. 6 or more
5. What percentage of the people you meet do you follow up with?
a. Less than 25 percent
b. 26 to 49 percent
c. 50 to 74 percent
d. Greater than 75 percent
6. How quickly do you follow up with a new contact?
a. Within a month, if ever
b. After a week
c. Within 2 to 4 days
d. Same or next day
7. Which is the most common way you meet new people?
a. They find me
b. Someone offers to introduce me
c. I ask friends for introductions
d. I seek people out and contact them directly
8. When are you most likely to reach out to your network?
a. I don’t
b. When they reach out to me
c. On a regular basis when there is a reason (for example, birthday, job opportunity, change in working or personal situation)
9. When do you end a conversation with someone? When . . .
a. They end it with me
b. Conversation becomes stilted or I think they don’t want to talk anymore
c. I know how I will follow up
d. I am ready to talk to someone else or see someone else I want to talk to
10. How do people regularly reach out to you? (Note all that apply.)
a. For contact information of someone else
b. For an introduction
c. To ask for a favor
d. To request you speak to a friend
e. To ask for advice
f. To request you or your services on a project
g. To say hello and catch up
h. To invite you to something
i. To hang out socially
Scoring: For questions 1-9, score as follows:
A answers = 1 point
B answers = 2 points
C answers = 3 points
D answers = 4 points
For question 10, give yourself one point for every answer you circled. Total your score and learn your networking style below.
9-14 points: The Observer
You tend to hang back in a crowd. You watch what is going on, but don’t get involved. You never initiate and rarely follow up on making new connections. The result: Your network is small and you are not in the front of people’s minds as a resource. If you are uncomfortable, make slight changes. For example, consider following up with others via email or through social media. If you prefer one-on-one contact, invite someone to lunch with you. If a group setting is easier, tag along or ask to join a group that has room for one more at the table. Look for situations that match your style and comfort until you get used to joining in.
15-24 points: The Reactor
You are interested in making new connections but feel more comfortable when someone else takes the lead. You struggle to keep a conversation flowing. You are responsive to other people’s attempts to connect and follow up frequently to something specific. You take a subtle approach, though sometimes your comfort and confidence may get in your way. You are on the right track; stretch a little more and you will increase your comfort level. Set a weekly goal to initiate a conversation with someone and to reach out to a new contact. Don’t doubt they want to know you; you are not the type of person who comes on too strong, so don’t worry about feeling like a nuisance.
25-37 points: The Initiator
You are actively networking and taking a balanced approach. You seek opportunities, include others in the conversation, and follow up regularly. People think about you for a variety of reasons and you are effectively staying in the front of their minds. Keep doing what’s working. In addition, expand the way you make new contacts, so your network grows beyond the close circle you have already created. Broaden the breadth of your network by geography, industry, function, gender, age, and so on. With a more diverse network, you will be better positioned to make valuable introductions and practice giving to others. Remember, don’t over-pursue contacts. It’s OK to stay front of mind, but not in their face.
38-44 points: The Director
You are strategic and methodical about networking. It is high on your priority list and you take a numbers approach. You are involved in many organizations, which increases your familiarity because you or your name pops up everywhere. Your approach may feel insincere or over-the-top for some, though. Give network contacts some breathing room and use a lighter touch when reaching out. Seek to connect beyond the surface topics that come up in business. Make sure people feel you value the time you are spending with them and not looking for more interesting contacts in the room. Don’t pull back too much; simply consider your timing, frequency, and depth of conversation.