Last week Dr. Misner talked about the top seven characteristics of a great networker. This week he’s sharing the five least important skills for networking according to that same survey of 3400 business people. Knowing what not to do can be as important as knowing what to do.
Many people think you need to be an extrovert to be a good networker, but that’s not what the survey says. Here are five least important skills for networking. You don’t need to be
- A salesperson
- A self-promoter
- Social media savvy
That’s right: social media skills are not an indicator of great networking ability. The under-30 crowd ranked social media savvy second-to-last instead of last.
It’s also clear from these results that great networkers and great salespeople have different skill sets.
Brought to you by the Networking for Success Channel on YouTube.
Complete Transcript of Episode 502 –
Hello everybody and welcome back to the Official BNI Podcast, brought to you by the Networking for Success Channel on YouTube, featuring Dr. Ivan Miser and many other networking experts. I am Priscilla Rice, and I am coming to you from Live Oak Recording Studio in Berkeley, California. I am joined on the phone today by the Founder and the Chief Visionary Officer of BNI, Dr. Ivan Misner. Hello, Ivan, how are you and where are you?
Hey, so this week, I am in India. I spent some time in Bangalore, India, where the BNI Foundation and the Misner Family Foundation have supported the Bluebells School, which is a school in Bangalore. An amazing, amazing school. They do incredible things. We have actually even helped them build an entire floor on their school, on their building to help them serve more children.
That’s so great.
That’s in Bangalore. This week, I am in Mumbai. This is my second visit to India and the incredible chapters here. There are a number of chapters, over 100, if you can believe that. It is just amazing. So I am excited to be back in India. I look forward to coming back again. We have many, many listeners to the BNI Podcast here.
This week, we are going to be talking about the five least important skills to be a great networker. In last weeks’s podcast, I talked about the seven ways to better networking. That and this are based on a survey I conducted of almost 3400 people around the world. In the survey, I asked participants -this was open to the general public, by the way, not just BNI members. I asked participants from all over the world what they thought the top characteristics of being a great networker were.
So if you didn’t listen to last week’s podcast, go there and take a peek at it and listen to it. You’ll get the top seven skills. This is out of about 20. This week, I want to talk about the least important skill because I think knowing what not to do is as important as what to do in developing a certain skill set.
So in this podcast, I am going to walk you through the five least important skills to be great at networking. Over the last 30 years, I have found that most people assume that being an extrovert is an advantage in networking. But let’s take a good look at the bottom five characteristics. Four out of the five least important skills to be a great networker had something to do with being outspoken or bold – characteristics more aligned with being an extrovert than an introvert. Really, this surprises me a little bit, that four out of five would be there.
The top seven characteristics also focused on relationship building themes, the whole idea that networking is more about farming than it is about hunting, whereas these skills are definitely not about farming.
Based on the survey, the fifth least important – I am going to give you the bottom five with number one being last. The fifth least important – so, out of 20, this was like number 16 or the fifth least important was being fearless. Listen, being fearless may be good in sales. It may be good in general business, but for being a networker, being fearless is not a skill that most people felt was important to being a good networker. Extroverts tend to be more fearless and confident, but when it comes to identifying the skills of a great networker, this was not very important to an overwhelming majority of the people.
The fourth least important skill was asking for the sale. Extroverts almost always ask for the sale compared to an introvert. Yet this was a skill that most people think is not very important in order to be a great networker. I hear people all the time, even in BNI, say, “Hey, it never hurts to ask, right?”
You have heard me talk about this before. Yeah, it hurts to ask, but don’t believe me. Believe 3400 people who took this survey who ranked it as one of the least important skills in networking – people who ask for the sale.
Here is the third least important skill. The third least important skill was being a self-promoter. Being a self promoter. So this particular result seems completely counter-intuitive at first. Completely counter-intuitive. How can self promotion not be an important skill for great networkers? Well, the answer, I think, is easy. In order for networking to be effective, it really has to be about the relationship, not the transaction, so many, many people get this one wrong. I think the single biggest reason why some people hate networking – hate it, some people hate it- is they go to a networking event and have one person after another trying to sell something.
Very few introverts can be called self promoters, so this one is another example of where being an introvert might not hurt your chances at networking nearly as much as you think. So many people that I have met over the years – you may not be one if you are listening to this. So many say, “Well, I am an introvert. It is kind of hard for me to network.” You have to look at last week’s podcast and listen to this week’s podcast and you will find that being an introvert isn’t necessarily a problem.
Don’t get me wrong. I think you can be an extrovert and be very successful, too, if you really strive to focus on building that relationship. You and I, Prisicilla, were talking about the relationship thing. I mentioned that it is always important. I think this was off-air. I don’t think we did this on-air. It is always important to be more interested than interesting.
Oh yeah. You mentioned that in the last one.
I think that’s part of it here. You have to be interested in other people.
The second least important skill is directness, being direct. You know, this is an interesting one because being direct in your business dealings is often considered to be an attribute. However, when it comes to networking, it seems to be viewed more as being pushy, which is clearly not a strike in building relationships.
Again, extroverts are more inclined to come across as direct than an introvert. When it comes to networking, that is not a skill that most people are looking for.
This is really interesting to me to see just how different in general the skills for the least important and the most improtant. Here is the number one least important characteristic- so dead last in the survey for being a great networker. It was for me, in many ways, very surprising. It was an attribute that could easily apply to both introverts and extroverts. It was social media savvy, being really good in social media.
I included that one in the survey because I found that a lot of people think that networking online is pretty much all people need to do to network. You know, they don’t need to do face to face stuff. Just do it online.
I believe that online networking has great value. I am on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn. I am an proponent, but it does not replace face to face. I put it in there knowing full well in my mind that it would probably rank pretty high. Even I was surprised when it ranked dead last by 3400 business people. Dead last.
So after reviewing the report, I thought, okay, okay, surely the millennials would rank this characteristic higher. So Priscilla, I compared the survey responses because I asked for age. I asked for age because of this question. I am really glad I did. So I compared the survey responses of people under 30 to this result and, Priscilla, I discovered that there was, in fact, a difference.
The under 30 crowd ranked this characteristic second to last. Seriously. Second to last. Even millennials understand that social media skills are not an indicator of great networking ability.
So if you want to be a great networker, understand the seven ways to better networking like I talked about last week and understand the five least important skills to be a great networker because you may be doing things in terms of being very direct and being fearless and asking for the sale, these kinds of things that actually may not serve you in the way that you hoped that they would serve you. The combination of knowing what to do as well as what not to do, I think, will help you to network like a pro.
That is everything I’ve got for this week, Priscilla, unless you have any observation.
Well, I think what you are describing is a very skilled salesperson who is kind of pushy. That seems really obvious that nobody really likes that in a networking environment.
I just want to add that I did bring a guest recently to an open meeting that we had. She was way too aggressive and alienated everyone. She even ended up doing her own raffle at the end. It was kind of nutty, but it really showed exactly what you are talking about.
It’s important because I think people – we are not taught networking skills in colleges and universities, so we just think it is part of the sales process and sometimes we come across too aggressively. I think that is a mistake. I am actually going to touch upon this in next week’s podcast a little bit, so some back next week and let’s talk about one of the reasons why I started BNI over 30 years ago. It had to do with going to some networks that were really aggressive like you are describing.
I think that is a great example. You know when it is not a good fit with someone in there. But even people who are regular members, you know the behavior just pops out sometimes. Sometimes you just can’t help yourself and you kind of cross the line in being too direct or too transactional. I think all of this relates to being too transactional as opposed to relational. Does that make sense?
Yeah, it does.
Well, that is all I’ve got for today. That was a good addition, though. Thank you.
You’re welcome. Well, I think that is it for this week. I would just like to remind the listeners that this podcast has been brought to you by the Networking for Success Channel on YouTube. Thank you so much for listening. This is Priscilla Rice and we look forward to having you join us again next week for another exciting episode of the Official BNI Podcast.