Social networking is a great way to build business connections. Whether you use it to keep up with industry leaders, competitors or potential prospects, it removes many of the barriers which often stop us connecting in the real world.
Though I’ve built many meaningful connections which have stayed firmly in the digital space, most of these relationships never make it beyond being just a ‘connection’.
It’s Still About Human Relationships
So how do you break down this barrier? How do you move your relationships forward so you can turn it into something of value?
Though, of course, there are exceptions, people generally won’t send business your way until they’ve met you. It’s just the way humans work.
I’ve seen it happen so many times. You may have built a connection with someone online, interacted over a period of a few months on a variety of online platforms and then hit a plateau in your relationship.
At that point – by some coincidence – you might meet this person at an industry event, business networking meeting or through an existing contact. However it happens, this often puts a spark back in the relationship.
All of a sudden this person is interacting with you on a more regular basis, not just through social platforms but on the phone and through email. They are sending you business and referring their customers to you – all because they’ve seen your face and shook your hand.
It sounds really basic, but it’s a reality of business which so many people ignore. People do business with people, and although social networking has its place – and is a great way to pave the way for a meeting - nothing will ever show someone your human side better than a face-to-face meeting.
On-line Networking – Just Part of the Picture
So many businesses approach their online social networking and ‘real world’ business channels as separate entities. To get the most value from both activities, business networking should be approached in a far more integrated way.
Social networking, social media and ‘real world’ business networking should all be part of your overall networking strategy. If you currently only exist online, I strongly suggest you give face-to-face networking a go.
There are organised networking events across the country arranged by organisations like 4Networking or BNI as well as many locally organised events. You could even try asking your online connections which events they regularly attend.
Get stuck in, start combining physical networking with your online efforts and you will quickly start to see the rewards.
What do you think?
Is it possible to build meaningful connections purely using online social platforms? Is business networking worth the effort?