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40 Networking Statistics for Salespeople

Written by:

Victoria Yu is a Business Writer with expertise in Business Organization, Marketing, and Sales, holding a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from the University of California, Irvine’s Paul Merage School of Business.

Edited by:

Sallie, holding a Ph.D. from Walden University, is an experienced writing coach and editor with a background in marketing. She has served roles in corporate communications and taught at institutions like the University of Florida.

40 Networking Statistics for Salespeople

40 Networking Statistics for Salespeople

Networking: love it or hate it, it’s an integral part of the business world. And for salespeople in particular, networking can be an excellent way to find and nurture new leads with the hopes of making a sale. But how exactly should you go about networking? What are the best strategies to network?

Plenty of people run their mouths with unsubstantiated claims about the most effective networking practices. But, after hearing all the talk, it’s not easy to know what to believe. For this reason, we’ve taken a look at the hard statistics so that we can provide facts to back up what we say –all to help guide you on the road to networking success.

Key Networking Statistics for Salespeople

Key Takeaways

  • For salespeople, networking is the process of building, maintaining, and leveraging relationships to uncover either sales or professional opportunities.

  • Both in-person and virtual networking through social media have proven effective in developing relationships, albeit with a trade-off of depth versus number of connections.

  • Post COVID-19, business travel has been slow to recover. Travel costs remain high, so though businesses are eager to return to live events, pricing could be a barrier to international networking.

  • Two ways to improve your image when networking are to present a high-quality business card (physical or digital) and to mind your body language.

  • Though businesspeople are familiar with developing a network, many struggle with maintaining it over time.

What is Networking?

First, a brief explanation of networking.

Networking involves building, maintaining, and leveraging relationships that could turn up new leads (sales networking) or advance your career (professional networking).

For salespeople looking to make it big, both types of networking are important for uncovering new opportunities. Usually, you’ll want to network with people who match your ideal customer profile for sales networking or who work in a similar or related industry as you for professional networking. By having an ear out in the right circles, word might make it back to you of a buyer looking for exactly your type of product, or a business looking to hire a hardworking, skilled salesperson, just like you.

This sounds great in theory, but is there any evidence to support networking’s effectiveness? How exactly do you build and maintain a network? These 40 networking statistics below will conclusively answer those questions and more.

Effectiveness of Networking

First off, why should you focus your time and efforts on networking? Networking is near-universally recognized as an effective method of finding, building, and maintaining relationships with new leads, leading to increased sales.

That means that if your business is currently in a rut trying to find new customers through traditional marketing methods, networking could be a new avenue to success.

  1. In a study of 2,300 people, 79% said that in-person meetings are the most effective way to meet new clients to sell business. Eighty-nine percent (89%) agreed that face-to-face meetings are essential for “sealing the deal.” Virtually all participants (95%) said that face-to-face meetings are a key factor in successfully building and maintaining long-term relationships.
  1. When asked about what sources offered the highest quality leads, sales professionals answered referrals from existing leads (66%), social media (47%), and trade shows and events (44%).
  2. For in-person meetings, 65% of trade show attendees are not current customers of the exhibited businesses.
  3. The closing rate for customers obtained through business networking is 40%.
  4. Business executives report that they would lose 28% of their business if they stopped networking.

Where to Network?

When networking, salespeople have the option of meeting people either in person or online. 

The most common places to network in person are at parties, events, conferences, and trade shows, with other places such as bars, restaurants, gyms, airplanes, and commutes showing a surprising prevalence. In other words, while you can network in person at all the expected places, every place you go to in your daily life can offer a chance to network in person.

On the other hand, online networking is growing in popularity. This is because online networking events are more affordable and accessible.

  1. The most common places small business owners network at are online (70%), parties and social events (51%), online conferences (49%), and local conferences (40%).
  2. About 5% to 20% of new customers come from trade shows, especially those with an open bar.
  3. About 38% of entrepreneurs say bars and restaurants are great places to network.
  4. Some other surprisingly common networking locations are the gym (23%), on an airplane (17%), or during a daily commute (28%).
  5. Approximately 40% of people network more online than in person.
  6. As online meetings cut down on travel costs, 92% of people have a greater chance of attending online meetings or connecting with people online rather than in person.

Business Travel

When considering in-person networking, sales organizations additionally have the option to send their salespeople on business trips to either domestic or international events. Though business travel for live sales networking events could grow your revenue by more than twelvefold, travel faces considerable challenges, such as increased prices, sustainability goals, and travel restrictions. 

As the cost of travel increases, it would be wise for sales organizations to focus on sending only one or two salespeople to high-profile live events rather than wasting the budget chasing after every single networking event.

  1. Every $1 invested in business travel yields $12.50 in incremental revenue.
  2. Travel spending is expected to return to pre-pandemic levels by late 2024 or early 2025. However, accounting for lost growth and inflation, this post-pandemic travel volume will likely be smaller than it was pre-pandemic.
  3. The top five factors driving business travel growth are increased live-event attendance, easing travel restrictions, reopening the company’s own offices, larger travel budgets, and the reopening of client offices.
  4. The top five factors slowing business travel growth are higher travel prices, travel restrictions, reduced travel budgets, client unwillingness, and employee unwillingness to travel.
  5. Four in 10 European companies and a third of US companies say that they need to reduce travel per employee by more than 20% to meet their 2030 sustainability targets.

Sales Networking

Now, how exactly do you make the most of your networking to increase sales? Though it’s true that networking can bring you a wealth of new customers, your networking strategy should differ depending on whether you’re looking specifically to increase revenue or widen your network. 

If you’re looking simply to turn a profit when networking, it would be best to focus on existing connections and customers. However, if you’re thinking about expanding your network in the long term, hosting or attending a virtual event would put you in contact with more people. Regardless of your motives, it’d be best to do some research before networking so you don’t enter the conversation cold.

  1. The probability of selling to an existing customer is 60-70%, while the probability of selling to a new prospect is 5-20%.
  2. According to 80% of event professionals, virtual events reach a much wider audience.
  3. Don’t go in cold – 75% of networking (researching who to meet, finding points of commonality, developing questions to ask) is done before you show up to the event.

Professional Networking

On the other hand, salespeople can also network for the sake of advancing their career, such as by finding vacant job positions through their network. Though only a quarter of professionals actually network, a majority of job vacancies are filled through networking. 

Beyond in-person job fairs, business networking groups, or other live networking events, B2B companies usually source their network connections (and future hires) through social media channels such as Linkedin, Facebook, and X (formerly Twitter).

  1. Over 70% of open job positions aren’t advertised on job websites.
  2. In a 2023 report, 85% of job vacancies were found to be filled through networking.
  3. Only 25% of professionals actually network.
  4. The top social media platforms used by B2B companies for networking are LinkedIn (96%), Facebook (82%), and X (formerly Twitter, 82%).

Body Language

Once you’re in front of a new connection, body language cues such as a firm handshake, consistent eye contact, and tonal control can help you make a positive impression.

  1. For 72% of people who conduct in-person meetings, handshakes are considered important indicators of their conversation partner’s personality.
  2. You should maintain eye contact 50% of the time when speaking and 70% of the time when listening.
  3. Only 7% of communication is verbal, relating to the content of one’s speech. More important are vocal communication relating to the tone of one’s voice (38%), and nonverbal communication (55%).

Business Cards

Another way to make a strong impression on prospects and new connections is by giving them a business card. A tried and true networking classic, business cards have been proven to shift peoples’ perceptions of a salesperson and their business and increase sales. Some tips to improve your card’s quality are to use color and thicker paper.

However, due to paper waste concerns, some salespeople are switching to digital business cards using designated apps and QR codes. Not only are they much cheaper and easier to update, but they can be distributed through online events as well. If you’re looking to cut costs and make an eco-friendly impression in-person and online, a digital business card could be the way to go.

  1. Sales increase by 2.5% for every 2000 business cards passed out.
  2. The conversion rate for business cards is 12%, as compared to 2.35% for websites.
  3. When meeting for the first time, 72% of people form their first opinions of a company from the representative’s business card.
  4. Over 39% of business card recipients could walk away from a business due to its business card design.
  5. People are 10 times more likely to keep business cards in color than monochrome ones.
  6. Of all business cards printed in a year, 8 million (88%) of business cards are tossed in less than a week.
  7. The global digital business card market is valued at $200 million in 2023, and is projected to grow at a CAGR of 9.5% to almost $500 million by 2033.

Social Selling

Salespeople can also network online using social media channels, a process known as social selling. Because of its cost and time efficiency, salespeople who use social selling are more likely to reach their quotas as compared to traditional networkers.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that some of the most popular social media platforms aren’t necessarily the best places to network. Instead, salespeople should turn to both popular-yet-professional sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn, to source leads and prospects.

  1. Social sellers are 66% more likely to reach their quotas than those using traditional prospecting methods.
  2. When asked which social media platforms they use to find new prospects, sales professionals answered with Facebook (75%), Instagram (51%), and LinkedIn (43%) as their top choices.
  3. By brand awareness, the leading social networks in the United States are Youtube (94%), Facebook (93%), Instagram (91%), and TikTok (89%).

How to Maintain a Network

Though we’ve established networking as an important tool for both sales and professional development, less than half of business professionals say they maintain their network. To maintain the network you’ve built, it’s best to set a schedule for communicating and reconnecting with people in your network. If you plan to host a networking event to see several people at once, be sure to keep it small so you can focus on building a connection with each individual.

  1. Only 48% of professionals say they keep in touch with their network, mostly due to lack of time.
  2. If you’re looking to build a stronger connection with someone, it’s best to reach out to them two or three times per quarter.
  3. According to brand professionals, you should do a network audit every six months to determine who and who not to keep up with.
  4. The ideal number of people at a networking event is less than 10.


As a salesperson, networking virtually or in person is a great way to discover new clients and business opportunities. As business travel for in-person networking is slow to recover from COVID-19 restrictions, consider networking in person at unexpected locations such as the gym or during your daily commute. Alternatively, you could network online to reach a greater audience. 

Though you may not see results immediately, by strategically broadening and maintaining your professional network, you could turn up even the most elusive of leads or opportunities, and find success in places you’d never have considered before.


Should I network virtually or in person?

Ideally, you should use a combination of both. Online networking will help you meet a large number of people in a short period of time, but those connections will be fairly shallow to start. On the other hand, in-person networking takes more time and money investment, but results in a stronger impression. No matter how you meet someone, we recommend you keep up with them regularly online and infrequently in person to keep the connection strong.

Should I travel to network?

Prices for business travel to live events remains quite high as travel and hospitality suppliers are slow to rebound from COVID-19. Thus, we’d recommend against frequently traveling to live networking events. Until the travel industry improves, we’d recommend a sales organization stick to only a few live events per year, and to  send only a few salespeople per trip to represent the company.

How do I make a strong impression on clients?

In person, some ways to make a strong impression are to give a firm handshake, present a high-quality business card, and to project a welcoming and attentive personality through body language. Though you can’t offer a handshake online, you could present a virtual business card for online networking events and turn on your camera to project body language all the same.

If you travel internationally for networking, be aware that different cultures have different standards for business etiquette, such as bowing in Asian countries instead of offering a handshake. Notably, Japanese etiquette requires you to distribute and receive business cards with both thumbs on top of the card, and damaging another person’s business card is seen as extremely disrespectful.