Australian business leaders reveal the type of contacts and networks they find most valuable

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The value in a network of contacts comes down to the business it can bring in and has very little to do with the old school network, company leaders say.

Until now the money benefit of a network has been hard to define. However, the latest Westpac Businesses of Tomorrow Connections Report shows business leaders attribute 17.7% of revenue to contacts and professional networks.

And most working Australians believe a business can’t survive without professional networks. Two-thirds (64%) say they have been more successful because of their connections.

The Westpac report surveyed 1,421 full-time and part-time working Australians, including 512 business leaders.

“Connections from past business encounters, events and education are most likely to generate revenue,” according to the survey.

Networking experts say the ability to find, cultivate and maintain connections can give people an edge. An employer with four equally-skilled candidates in front of them will most likely go for the one who can demonstrate industry knowledge and connections.

According to the latest survey, the most valuable connections for business leaders, in terms of revenue, are those they’ve done business with in the past (39%), those they have worked with (23%) and from networking events (13%).

Managers are more likely (43%) than business owners (37%) to consider contacts they have done business with in the past to be the most valuable.

Millennial business leaders are least likely (29%) to consider contacts that they have done business with in the past to be valuable to their organisation’s revenue generation. More baby boomers (42%) see the benefit.

But the contacts made at networking events are more valuable to Millennials (22%) than Baby Boomers (6%).

Here’s where the best connections can be found:

Almost two out of five (37%) business leaders believe their teams should spend more time nurturing business contacts and professional networks.

Millennials are the most likely (50%) to believe their staff should spend more time nurturing their contacts. Only a quarter (23%) of baby boomers think it’s a good idea.

The most valuable connections network, in terms of career progression and job success, are most likely to be ex-colleagues (32%) and people from previous business relationships (26%).

Working millennials are the most likely to have connections from their educational studies (28%).

Few (4%) consider their school network to be valuable to career progression and job success.

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