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CFOs Not So Social When it Comes to Business Networking

Jul 31st 2015
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Hold that tweet, at least when it comes to business.

A recent survey of 2,200 CFOs by Robert Half Management Resources found that 50 percent of finance chiefs said they prefer using email to keep in touch with other professional colleagues. Twenty-five percent of those surveyed said they like to keep in touch with colleagues through networking events, meetings, and conferences.

Surprisingly, social media came in a distant third, at 18 percent – a dramatic decrease from the 45 percent of CFOs who said online networking was their top choice in a similar survey three years ago.

“Email allows busy executives to easily stay in touch with contacts and quickly receive feedback on a question or business request,” Paul McDonald, senior executive director for Robert Half, said in a written statement.

Despite the convenience of email, McDonald advises professionals to avoid becoming too reliant on it and neglecting the human factor.

“Exchanging ideas over lunch or attending a conference with others in your industry is a more personal way to develop a rapport with colleagues,” McDonald said. But he added that executives shouldn't count out social media completely in a business capacity.

“Social media offers a vehicle for quickly widening one's reach and gaining exposure to a broader range of news and insights,” he said.

The survey also asked CFOs: “What is the primary purpose of your professional networking activities?” Keeping up with industry trends was cited by 46 percent of respondents, followed by growing the business (37 percent). Three years ago, growing the business was cited by 60 percent of CFOs; keeping up with industry trends was second, at 20 percent.

Following are five professional networking tips for senior-level executives to broaden their connections and visibility.

1. Build a presence at industry events. Deliver a presentation or facilitate a workshop at a national or chapter meeting to introduce yourself to industry colleagues. You'll gain a reputation as a thought leader.

2. Mentor others. Share the wisdom you've gained throughout your career to shape future leaders and gain the personal satisfaction by helping others advance their careers.

3. Volunteer with philanthropic and local organizations. Make a difference in the lives of others by interacting with people with diverse interests and different backgrounds and fields.

4. Serve in a leadership position outside the company. Take on a role in a business or community group to showcase your leadership skills in a different capacity. You'll meet people with whom you can exchange business ideas.

5. Engage with your alma mater. Prepare the next generation of professionals, while enhancing your firm's connections with the school. Your contributions could build student affinity for your company.


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