I have grown up in the business world working and interacting directly with people for many years. I enjoy it, I look forward to it and I still say it’s where the magic happens in relationships. But today, we have two worlds that are learning how to blend, balance and work together: online/Web-based and offline/in person.
In the past few years, so much emphasis and shifting has gone to the Web/online world because that is where the growth and movement trends are. In-person networking has taken a hit, as evidenced with declining enrollment in chambers of commerce, fee-based networking events and professional organizations. It’s not that people don’t want to go; it’s simply a matter of finances . . . or is it? Are we substituting an e-mail, tweet, post or text for live, in-person activities. thinking that is going to grow relationships?
We can never forget how important and powerful people getting together for face-to-face interaction can be. Nor can we allow sending e-mails or texts to replace that interaction. Blending your online and offline activities is important because today, people are communicating and engaging equally in both places. The online and offline worlds are interdependent and interrelated.
If I meet you online and strike up an online relationship that has value and interest to me, then taking it offline is going to enhance that relationship and help it progress. If we meet in person, then staying connected online is going to enhance our relationship and help it progress until we meet in person again.
Why is face-to-face networking so important?
- The power of personally connecting and human interaction accelerates relationship building. In 10 minutes I can learn more about someone, and they about me, in person than in six months online!
- Finding common ground comes from having a conversation or discussion on the phone or in person. The energy that passes between people finding out that they have a hobby, favorite book, peer or life experience in common can be profound.
- Making decisions on what the next step is and putting the plan in motion can happen in one minute on the phone or in person, as opposed to multiple e-mails.
I just moved back to my hometown of Ft. Lauderdale after a four-year career detour on the southwest coast of Florida. Although I have many roots from many years and careers, I am reconnecting with the market four years later and in a different professional capacity. I have decided to tap into my network and ask to be connected to like-minded people they know. I will reciprocate and network them with people I know to do the same for them. Finding out what events, groups and activities people go to is a much better way to find connections.
If you haven’t been out and about enough, set some goals this year to reconnect in person in your community, business world or hobbies. Go where you already have commonality and know people. It’s a much easier and faster way to get connected, get personal and make some new friends and connections–and you just might get that job, interview or new customer.
How are you choosing your networking events?