There was a time when the only way to network was to turn up at a meeting, in person, and actually hold a conversation with real people. Today, with the advance of technology and the popularity of Social Media is there still a need to do face to face networking?
I’m a big believer that modern Social Networking should be used to enhance your face to face networking rather than replace it. You may expect that as a Digital Trainer I would be a huge advocate of online networking but as a seasoned business owner I can see the value of both.
Face to Face networking means getting out of your office (or your kitchen or bedroom) and turning up at a venue at a set time. You have a limited amount of time to share what you do and leave a good impression on your fellow networkers. You also have the opportunity to gauge genuine interest in what you offer and capitalise on it.
Only give your business card out to those who are interested – no point wasting them by giving one to somebody who will just chuck it in a drawer. Follow up with your prospects the next day (or as soon after as you can) to make the most of your networking time. It’s about building relationships, getting to know real human beings. People buy from people, they shop with you because they like you as a person. If they wanted impersonal they would go buy from large corporates. Nurture those relationships and you will nurture a group of effective sales people and advocates for your business!
So can we achieve the same online? It’s much more difficult to convey feelings and emotions in writing. The subtleties of tone of voice and body language are lost on Social Media. Emoticons may help but can also look less than professional in some circumstances. It’s impossible to shake hands and hug in a virtual environment.
So is it a waste of time? No. Online networking can reinforce your face to face networking. It allows you to keep in touch between events, to continue to build on the relationship you have built when together. You can offer supporting information, more details about what you do and mention special offers, events and other opportunities to meet and do business. You can pass referrals, link your networking contacts with other contacts that may help them and of course get referrals and sales from your networking buddies. You can be online at any time during the day or evening, whenever you have the time. It’s quick and easy to keep in touch.
You have to get a balance between the two. If you only have time to do one type of networking then make it the face to face sort. I have made many friends in my 14 years of networking along with many fabulous people who support my business on a regular basis. There was only face to face networking when I started and the temptation today could be to just network on Social Media but you will be missing out on so much: the laughs, the conversation and the friendships.
Most important of all is to do your networking. Your business is bigger than you alone, expand your sales force for free!
BIO: Jan Kiermasz is an experienced Digital Professional teaching business owners to utilise modern technology to best effect. Through her company, John Jelly, she has taught people of all ages and from all walks of life to use Social Media, Build websites and improve their marketing. As a parent she writes for Mama Life Magazine, helping parents cope with the dangers of Social Media for their children. Find out more about what she can do for you at http://johnjelly.co.uk