Face to Face Networking is Still Viable
If you’re a blogger or blog reader you no doubt have a LinkedIn profile, Facebook page, Twitter account, Pinterest board, YouTube subscription, and countless other forms of social media taking your time and helping you make connections. LinkedIn may be the most powerful sales list generator since the phone book, but does all of this social media mean that face to face networking and meeting is soon to be replaced by emails and invitations to connect? In my personal experience…No.
I use LinkedIn daily to find new people who are interesting, who I can possibly sell to, and who I can help. I’ve sent out plenty of blind invitations to total strangers and have been pleased with the responses. I’ve been able, in a few short years, to build a very extensive network all through connecting with people through social media. But, if I hadn’t taken the next step and actually called or emailed these new connections to meet face to face over coffee, I would not have had the success in my professional and personal life that I have today. People still want to meet, they want to shake hands, and they want to look you in the eye when you’re talking to them.
The benefits of actually meeting with people are twofold. First, meeting someone fact to face lets you really feel out the other person. You can ask on-the-spot questions and read their body language while they respond. You also don’t get to sit on a reply until you’ve carefully crafted your response. Feedback is immediate and it can be both beneficial and rewarding. The other benefit is the fact that the other person can learn more about you. They can figure out if they’re comfortable with you and if they want the relationship to move forward or if it’s dead in the water. In short – it takes a lot less time to get business done face to face then it does through email or twitter.
The biggest benefit I’ve personally experienced is the fact that so few people try to connect in person so it actually differentiates me from my competition. I’m not blindly sending quotes through the internet to people I’ve never met and waiting for feedback. I’m building rapport while finding out what a potential new client actually needs/wants instead of just assuming I already know. And when the meeting is over I can ask what steps are next and set a precedent instead of waiting on the client to get back to me.
So the next time you smile as you go over how many “connections” you have on your various social media platforms ask yourself, “How many of these people am I really connected to? How many would know me if we passed on the street?” I bet you’ll be surprised by the answer. Then, pick up the phone and start meeting your connections to turn them into something more – partners.