Real-time, face-to-face connecting is absolutely the best way to begin a business relationship. Facebook and Twitter are fun to play with however they can never replace the effectiveness you feel with you are talking with someone who is standing before you.
The tools available to networkers have drastically changed and increased with the arrival of online networking. In the past, networking was an activity conducted mostly face-to-face through formal and informal groups such as professional associations, local Chambers of Commerce events, networking clubs, breakfast meetings and events. Your little black book of contacts, probably still was a black book or a rolodex!
“Faux familiarity is worse than none at all. Sure, it’s easy to grab a first name from a database or glean some info from a profile. But when you pretend to know me, you’ve already started our relationship with a lie. You’ve cheapened the tools we use to recognize each other and you’ve tricked me, at least a little. Direct mail used to take advantage of this technique a lot, and since they measure everything, they knew when it worked. Online, though, we’re seeing less disciplined marketers (big and small) continually mess it up. The clues are obvious to even the untrained eye – typefaces that don’t match, references that don’t make sense, and most of all, the weird disconnect we get when we think we’re supposed to know someone and can’t remember who they are. That’s a lousy mood to get your prospect in, I think.” ~ Seth Godin
Social networking works to a certain degree but at some point in time you will have to crawl out from under your shy shell and start networking face-to-face. Some people find it easier to simply network from the comfort of their keyboard than to wear something other than sweatpants and slippers and attend an invigorating networking meeting or event.
Many networkers fall into the trap of thinking online or face-to-face networking, rather than combining the two different types of networking for maximum effect. Do you realize that Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter are fantastic tools for keeping in touch with people after meeting them at an event? After the face-to-face meeting is over it is always important to continue a valuable relationship by following up. Make reference to your previous conversation of when you met. This will help jog their memory in case they don’t remember speaking with you.
The online environment can never replace the benefits of meeting someone in the flesh. Never! This doesn’t mean that online networking isn’t valuable. Often it can be the beginning of a face-to-face meeting. It’s important to build your online network as strategically and thoughtfully as you do your local network. Use the same “let’s help each other develop business” approach. Building long-lasting business relationships begin with giving, not getting.
“I like seeing the whites of someone’s eyes when I start a relationship. A real handshake vs. a virtual one and a real smile vs. a smiley face on the computer help me learn so much more meaningful information about the other person.” ~ Lillian D. Bjorseth
Just like online dating, we are unable to develop true, lasting and trusting relationships with someone online, unless we can meet with them in person and know whether our personalities click. Face-to-face networking leaves people with a lasting impression of who you are. They can tell more quickly with that first handshake whether a long-term relationship that benefits both of you can occur.
Social media can be used to enhance the already existing connections that you have within your business networks. Part of the problem with online networking is how it makes everything less personal. In person you can read their expressions, tone of voice and body language to gain insight into what they’re thinking and how they are reacting as you meet. People are typically more willing to help those they know than total strangers. If you use social networking as an excuse to not have to attend networking functions, your are making a big mistake.
So… what’s the bottom line. Whether you start your relationships on or offline, do a little of both, however never abandon the opportunity to mix and mingle with other energetic networkers face-to-face. Whether it occurs online or face-to-face, business networking is a useful tool for everyone seeking to enhance and increase their business. There is no better way to interact with potential clients and business partners than with face-to-face interaction. It establishes you as a credible business person more rapidly.
Copyright © 2012 – Larry James. Larry James is a Professional Speaker, Author and Coach. He presents networking seminars nationally and “Networking” coaching by telephone or one-on-one. His latest book is, Ten Commitments of Networking: Creative Ways to Maximize Your Personal Connections! Something NEW about Networking is posted on this Networking BLOG every 4th day! Visit Larry’s Networking Website at: “Networking HQ!”
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