I don’t think this is a big surprise, but in-person networking is the most important. From the Career News newsletter (sorry, no link):
While the execs expected the importance of online networking to grow from 24% now to 38% in two years’ time, that’s still less important than developing personal contacts (81%), contacting recruiters (63%) or using job boards (51%). Some 93% of the senior executives surveyed said putting time into developing their ‘personal brand’ was a wise career move. While some three-quarters said this was best done offline, two-thirds said they do use social networking sites to look good.
Commenting on the findings, Carol Rosati, director at Harvey Nash, said: “While online networking does not replace human interaction, it does provide candidates with an additional set of resources to create and maintain a personal brand and complement the profile they build through ‘real world’ networking.” The top social networking sites for senior execs looking for career progression were LinkedIn (57%), Plaxo (16%), and Facebook took just 6% of the vote (ed.-my emphasis).
In a way, it seems that the gist of this survey misses the point of social network sites. They are a tool to improved networking, but I don’t think people view them as a replacement to in-person or phone call networking. I could be wrong here as I suspect there are people who just connect with others just for the sake of connecting. Maybe that should be called social connecting as opposed to networking?