Is networking that important? A recent survey by the Adler Group1 revealed 85% of all jobs are filled via networking. According to a study by job match firm The Ladders, only about half of all available job openings are ever advertised. Other recruiting sources believe that number is even higher, closer to 70-80%.
Networking is essential, but it needs to be meaningful. Simply gathering business cards and spamming people later with an email won’t create a relationship. It’s quality, not quantity when it comes to networking. Quality networking means listening more and talking less. The old proverb rings true, “A fool talks, a wise man listens.”
When it comes to networking, there is no better source than LinkedIn with a network of over 400 million people, not just a database. Plus, over 70% of LinkedIn members live outside the U.S. which makes it a truly global network. But LinkedIn just starts the conversation. Quality connections need to be fostered and developed into long term relationships.
Take the example of Jimmy Fallon and how quality networking helped him to become host the Tonight Show. Of course, he has great talent, but there are plenty of talented comedians out there. Fallon focused on developing very close relationships with the people who could advance his career.
It began at SNL. On the advice of an SNL producer, Fallon thanked Lorne Michaels after every show. Over time, Michaels and Fallon became close friends. Fallon leaves SNL and his movie career sputters. Michaels suggests he take Conan O’Brien’s vacated seat on NBC’s “Late Night” in 2009.
Fallon reaches out to Jay Leno and asks for advice. Leno was impressed with Fallon’s intense listening ability and felt it was a big reason why Fallon became successful so quickly.
“Most people in show business think they know everything. They don’t really listen to the other person. They just wait for the other person to stop talking. Respectful is the best word I can use for Jimmy,” Leno said.
Meaningful networking is about building meaningful relationships. You need to show a genuine interest in the other person and what they have to say. A connection that leads to a friendship – one that can boost your career and your business.
At EBM Software, we help transform companies. But it starts with building strong relationships. Quality networking is good for business. It accelerates growth. And that’s the bottom line.
Are you listening?
1 Adler Group is a consulting and training firm. Lou Adler is also a regular columnist for Inc. Magazine and Business Insider.