Balancing face to face vs. online networking
Much of face-to-face networking has shifted online over the past decade and thanks to expansion of social media our opportunities to network have significantly increased.
However, face-to-face networking remains an essential way to expand your contacts and build your professional credibility.
It’s fair to say that online and face to face networking are complementary to each other and should be used for different purposes.
What do you think are the advantages of each of these two networking channels?
Let’s start with online networking.
The opportunity to reach a nearly unlimited number of individuals in all geographies and sectors is probably the biggest advantage. It’s very easy to target your connections using social networks, you can use search criteria such as professional interests, organizations, career path, titles etc. to find
the people you want to get in touch with.
Bottomline: online networking = high visibility with minimum efforts!
Many people, especially shy people, find it easier to approach other individuals using technology. This approach has a sense of safety as you are protected by your computer screen. However, it’s important to know that spending most of your time on technology tends to kill your social skills.
Think of remote workers, if they do not make the efforts from time to time to physically meet colleagues, they risk to be ultimately isolated and not only lose touch with the rest of the team, but also becoming unaware of company changes and trends which are necessary to deliver efficiency and top performance.
So what about face-to-face networking?
Networking starts with trust and credibility and physical human connections play a critical role to build relationships.
Every time you make the effort to network through face to face contact you develop your social skills. These are essential life skills that help you thrive, both professionally and personally.
The strongest relationships are built trough face to face networking. When you physically meet someone you have access to dimensions that cannot be perceived while exchanging online. Think of emotional intelligence and all you can learn through observing somebody’s body language, such as eye contact or a simple handshake. Think of how you can use all these additional “signals” to make your network exchange more interesting and engaging for both parties.
Our advice is to combine both online and face to face networking to help you build and maintain your network. Use social networks as a way to open the opportunity to a face to face encounter or follow up on a recent face to face exchange. LinkedIn is a great tool to help you identify the people you want to connect with, to learn about their background and help you get prepared to talk about something that is relevant to them once you meet them face to face. If there is no physical way to meet them in person, then arrange telephone call or skype chat. And if this is not practical, nurture the relationship by sharing interesting articles and tips relevant to them.
Make sure your online profile is professional and be mindful about your status updates and the information you share, in this way you may be reached for networking purposes.
We hope that you found this article helpful to guide you in finding the
right mix between social media versus face to face networking. We would love to hear about your personal experience and the benefits that you reached using these two networking channels.