The research, comprising a white paper by visiting Professor of Networking at London’s Cass Business School Julia Hobsbawm and a Populus survey of 750 business professionals – including 57 in Yorkshire, found that 61 per cent of people surveyed in the region said that they network in person, the second highest percentage in the UK behind only Northern Ireland (82 per cent).
Face-to-face contact was followed by email (50 per cent) and telephone (37 per cent) in a list of ways people network in the region.
Meanwhile, just 44 per cent of respondents in Yorkshire agreed that they value networking as a professional skill, compared with 55 per cent nationally.
David Buckley, transaction advisory services partner at EY in Yorkshire, said:
“Networking is often seen as a separate distinct activity, where business cards are exchanged and hands are shaken.
“In reality it’s something we all do every day with our friends, colleagues, clients and acquaintances.
“Networking is about forming and maintaining relationships.
“It’s encouraging that Yorkshire professionals are amongst the most active face-to-face networkers in the country, and it’s important that companies and individuals in the region treat networking as a skill to be developed and maintained over time, whether that’s through formal training, mentoring, internal networks or simply networking as regularly as possible.”
Julia Hobsbawm, author of Fully Connected, the EY whitepaper, said:
“In the sea of digital overload, people crave human connection, either one-to-one, or one-to-many.
“The ability to connect with another human, to develop trust, understanding, faith, belief and a relationship, happens best face-to-face.”
The research also found that professionals in Yorkshire struggle to manage their networks online.
Forty-nine per cent of Yorkshire’s business people do not have LinkedIn accounts, while only 28 per cent network using online social networks.
Mr Buckley added:
“While face-to-face contact is clearly preferable, business people in our region also need to embrace new channels for networking.
“Online professional social networks present a significant opportunity to make new connections and keep in regular contact with them.”
Julia Hobsbawm added:
“Being able to network and collaborate with peers is now being directly linked to productivity.
“The softer skills of connection are increasingly crucial to professional success and it can only be a matter of time before more of us recognise the value of investing in relationships and building social capital.”