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The relationship between networking behaviors and the Big Five personality dimensions

Hans‐Georg Wolff (University of Erlangen‐Nürnberg, Nürnberg, Germany)
Sowon Kim (University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland)

Career Development International

ISSN: 1362-0436

Article publication date: 17 February 2012




The purpose of this paper is to suggest a comprehensive framework to elucidate the relationship between personality and networking. Using the Five Factor Model as a framework, the paper aims to argue that traits tapping into social (i.e. extraversion, agreeableness) and informational (i.e. openness to experience) features are relevant in explaining how individual dispositions facilitate networking behaviors. Moreover, it aims to delineate structural and functional differences in networking (i.e. building, maintaining, and using contacts within and outside the organization) and to theorize how these differences yield differential relationships of personality traits with networking dimensions.


Online surveys were administered to two samples, from Germany and the UK, respectively (n=351). Structural equation modeling is used to test the hypotheses.


Personality traits reflecting social (extraversion) and informational aspects (openness to experience) are broadly related to networking in general. The paper also finds support for differential relationships, for example, agreeableness is related to internal, but not external networking. Both conscientiousness and emotional stability are not related to networking behaviors.

Practical implications

The findings help explain why some individuals experience more barriers to networking than others and can be used in networking trainings. Practitioners should also note that there is more than extraversion to accurately predict networking skills in selection assessments.


The paper provides further insights into determinants of networking, which is an important career self‐management strategy. It also offers an integrative framework on the personality‐networking relationship as prior research has been fragmentary. Establishing differential relations also furthers understanding on core differences between networking dimensions.



Wolff, H. and Kim, S. (2012), "The relationship between networking behaviors and the Big Five personality dimensions", Career Development International, Vol. 17 No. 1, pp. 43-66.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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