Always like to share interesting research that speaks to the executive suite. I came across new research by CIT (a global commercial and consumer finance company) and Harris Interactive (market researcher) on networking for building relationship capital. For top management, nothing can replace F2F (Face to Face) interactions. I often think that F2F will become extinct or a scarce resource in the years to come as we move increasingly towards electronic business communications.
The survey asked US senior business executives (CEOs, Chairmen, EVPs, VPs, Directors) of $1B+ firms about the importance of networking. Three quarters said that networking with clients and prospects is more effective than traditional marketing. Despite this acknowledgment, only about half (55%) attend five or fewer events per year–that is less than one every two months. Only three percent attend 26 events or more per year. With executive travel schedules being what it is, this result is understandable but relationships are best built by seeing the whites of other people’s eyes.
The CIT/Harris survey also found that most executives prefer one-on-one social encounters or personal interactions.
Personal interaction (small dinners, meetings)–58%
Social responsibility/charitable activities–28%
Internet-based networking platforms (Linked In or Second Life)–17%
The finding that 17% find Internet-based networking useful is fascinating. I would have imagined that figure to be lower among this elite group. However, online networking pales in comparison to offline executive networking in this study.
As a CEO watcher, this research confirms what I have noticed–conferences and smaller seminars/events are booming for the C-suite. I have no doubt that F2F will soon become an extreme sport for building business.