Online or in person?
There are certainly benefits to both social networking and networking in person. Is one really better than the other? Well, I guess my answer is that in order to really develop quality relationships, face-to-face is the best way. Is that always possible in today’s technological age of communicating online all over the world? Not always.
Social networking makes it very convenient for the non-socialites to stay cocooned in their own little world. Sure, they talk to people on the phone, over Skype, they Twitter and blog, but I would argue that the bulk of that interaction with the outside world only creates a “surface relationship.” Whereas an interpersonal relationship requires getting to know the other person more deeply.
Think about it.
When you are working in email for example, you are or should be cautious about the wording, try not to respond in haste or in anger, because you never know how the person on the other end is reacting to your message. So, you avoid taking chances due to the lack of seeing the reaction. Right? If you are talking to someone in person, however, you will be able to see the reaction and address any awkwardness or misunderstanding right then and there. You can also take visual cues to delve into various areas of conversation. This could lead to more business opportunities or simply allow the discovery of common ground for further conversation.
How about listening to a variety of conversations at once.
Sure - it can happen online, but when you are out in a social setting, you can listen to conversations, perhaps learn something by doing that, or because your interest is peaked- you ask to join the conversation. The next thing you know, you are meeting new people and they are meeting you. If you are trying to grow a business, having a face to go with a name and business card is a lot better than nothing!
Creativity - want to see the Aha! Moments?
Get out and start talking to people about what they are up to? After all, you will only seek out the information you need online and when in person are more apt ask what’s happening and also to talk about what you are doing. New ideas happen through personal conversations and finding out how your services or product can fill a void in the marketplace.
Knowing what others are doing in either in your industry or in business generally is critical to being a good business owner.
Why? Because you will be behind the eight ball if your competition is learning new skills, has a finger on the pulse of their clients’ needs and what’s happening in the world. They will be jumping on opportunities while you are sitting in your own little space with your head down claiming that you have too much work to do! It’s called educating others about what you do. The more of that you can do, the more referral sources you will find and the more resources you will find for your clients.
Finding a balance between online and in person networking is what I would consider to be the best option. Social networking certainly offers the means to keep in touch easily and often with lots of people and if you are trying to sell your products or services, it keeps you visible and on others’ minds. You can update your peers with your new stuff, exchange ideas and even seek help and resources. But, if you want to forge a long lasting and quality relationship, you should consider finding a way to meet in person.
This blog post is a perfect example of why face-to-face gets the job done. If it wasn’t for having met Brian Teeman in person at the CMS Expo in Chicago several times, I don’t know that our online conversations would have ever gone farther than hello. But, because we have met in person and kept conversations going online, we discovered that we can work together to keep both of our blogs lively and I look to him to offer me ideas-, which he graciously does☺.
So, the next time you realize that you have been in your office for a solid week and haven’t even attempted to get out in public- get up, grab your coat and head out to your favorite coffee shop or bar. Find yourself an empty seat next to someone you don’t know and start talking! Too scared to do that? Get over it!