The more business acquaintances you have, the merrier you might be. But the quality of those contacts has a bigger impact on your career success, a new Robert Half Technology survey of information technology (IT) professionals suggests. Sixty-three percent of IT workers polled recently rated the quality of their professional network as “very important” to their overall career success, compared to 46 percent who felt the same way about the size of their network. When it comes to making new connections, (44 percent) of IT professionals surveyed prefer to network online and 22 percent favor doing it in person.
The survey was developed by Robert Half Technology, a leading provider of information technology (IT) professionals on a project and full-time basis. The responses are from over 7,500 IT workers to a Web survey conducted by Robert Half Technology in February 2013.
IT professionals were asked, “How important is the quality of your professional network to your overall career success?” Their responses:
Very important: 63%
Somewhat important: 33%
Not important: 4%
IT professionals also were asked, “How important is the size of your professional network to your overall career success?” Their responses:
Very important: 46%
Somewhat important: 47%
Not important: 7%
“Knowing someone professionally and being willing to go to bat for that person are two different things,” said John Reed, senior executive director of Robert Half Technology. “You may have hundreds of LinkedIn connections, but if the relationships are superficial, your contacts may not be very helpful when you’re seeking professional advice or assistance with a job search.”
Reed added, “Quality connections take time to establish, but they are a valuable career safety net, whether someone is just starting out or has many years of experience.”
Robert Half Technology provides five pitfalls to avoid when networking:
1. Losing touch. Keep the lines of communication open by offering a note of congratulations to a contact who was recently promoted or asking to meet for lunch. Set aside time each week for these types of networking activities.
2. Exhausting your resources. Most people are happy to help on occasion, but avoid overburdening one contact with repeated requests. Broaden your efforts and tap others in your network if you have trouble overcoming a particular career challenge.
3. Forgetting your p’s and q’s. A little gratitude can go a long way toward maintaining positive relationships. Always show appreciation to those who act on your behalf, even if their efforts don’t result in the desired outcome.
4. Taking a generalist approach. Instead of sending a mass email to everyone in your network asking for assistance, try customized, targeted messages to specific contacts.
5. Failing to return the favor. Networking is a two-way street: Look for opportunities to help your contacts whenever possible, and you’ll find that others are happy to do the same for you.