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, 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 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.   

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.