How Online Networking Expands Your In-Person Networks





I’m a big proponent of business networking online.

And I read something today that hit home:

FACT: The best online networks increase your face-to-face networks.

I have found the above statement to be true — my online networking definitely has led to more in-person contacts.  Instead of thinking of online networking as a replacement for face-to-face networking, perhaps a better way to think of the two is that they work  together.

For instance, yesterday I was in New York speaking at the Business Xpo at the huge Javits Center.  For those of you who have never been there, this convention center covers several city blocks — it’s that big.

The moment I walked in the door, I heard someone say, “Anita, I see you’re in New York again.”  I looked up and there was Rob Levin, the Publisher of the New York Enterprise Report.  It was great to be greeted by a friendly face.  Rob and I have met in person before, but only after running into one another originally online through our respective publications.

I went along to the room where I’d be speaking and as I was walking down the hallway, I could hear a familiar voice.  It was Ramon Ray of Smallbiztechnology.com, someone else I met originally online.  He was miked up and speaking in the same room ahead of me on the schedule.  It felt like old home week already. 

The door was open, Ramon saw me, and Ramon introduced me warmly to his audience.  Now I was really feeling welcome. As a result of his introduction, a few people came over and introduced themselves. 

After that, the panelists in my session started to arrive.  Laura Allen, co-founder of 15-Second Pitch and one of my past radio show guests was one of them.  Adi Sideman, the CEO of Oddcast and also a past guest on my radio show, was another.  Doug Shuman of Register.com made up the third panelist.

Later I spent some time with Yujin Sohn, head of SitePal marketing, at the SitePal booth.  And here’s the kicker.  I snapped a photo of Yujin, and then Yujin wanted one of both of us.  So she stopped a young man who happened to be walking in front of the booth and asked if he would take our picture.  He graciously said, “sure.” Afterwards we started talking and he said, “of course I know SitePal, I use it on my blogs.” 

When I heard the word “blogs” I looked more closely at his name tag and said “I think I know you.”  And I did — even though we’d never met face to face.  The person turned out to be Vikram Rajan of the Personal Brand Marketing blog.  I am a fan of his blog and have had some networking interaction with him online.  Now that we’ve met in person, we have a stronger networking connection.

What can I say, but “small world.”  Online networking really does lead to person-to-person relationships. 

Every one of the interactions mentioned above was brought about directly or indirectly as a result of networking online.  Were it not for creating connections online, I would have known no one in New York — not a single person.   

8 Comments ▼

Anita Campbell - CEO


Anita Campbell Anita Campbell is the Founder, CEO and Publisher of Small Business Trends and has been following trends in small businesses since 2003. She is the owner of BizSugar, a social media site for small businesses.

8 Reactions

  1. Joel Libava

    Anita,
    I find that online networking is a fantastic ice breaker for in-person networking opportunities. I have bonded with several people online. They read my blogs, and I read theirs. After a while, we really get to know each other..online.

    When we finally get a chance to meet face to face, we “know” each other, already.

    Joel Libava

  2. Anita Campbell

    Hi Joel, very true. In fact that’s how you and I met, via online networking. Even though we happen to be in the same city. I think we knew one another for what — a year or more? — before we actually shook hands in person.

    Anita

  3. It is so nice to communicate online with a customer and then finally get to meet them. You feel so much more at ease like they were long lost friends.

  4. 🙂 I’ve been out of town since the XPO so I have yet to blog about our wonderful meeting!

    It was great to grab a picture with you too – let me know if you have it ready. Our bump appearance is one of the few stories I’m sharing with everyone about the trade show and how blogging ‘works’.

    To follow-up our conversation, I just got 30 pre-release copies of the book, and I’ll be sure to send you one this weekend.

    Again, great meeting you… IRL.

    ~ Vikram
    PersonalBrandMarketing.com

  5. I totally agree with this! I was browsing through the pictures of one of my friends on Facebook and noticed one girl who was there in many pictures – so I checked her profile (Of-course she was beautiful and her profile was accessible for people from same university – Cornell that is).

    Later that day was in a bus and saw the same girl – it was easy to start the conversation as I mentioned to her where we met before 🙂 (On Facebook that is!!). It was great to meet her and now we are good friends.

    Sumit

  6. Sorry, my trackback is messing up!

  7. TJ McCue

    I’ve been hunting through the archives for some of my favorite posts and this one was one that I shared around. If your online networking isn’t producing new and valuable relationships, what are you doing? What am I doing? Fortunately, I’ve found that my online work has dramatically increased my biz relationships and client base.

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