With the rise of the Internet and social media, digital networking is fast becoming as prevalent as networking face-to-face. Because networking is one of the best marketing solutions, it's important to understand social networking and in-person networking to combine the best of both for business success.
Let’s look at the pros and cons of each networking approach.
Connect Quickly and Efficiently
Social media allows you to quickly connect with a large amount of people. Meeting them face-to-face would take years. With the amount of social media networks available, including LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, you can potentially connect with a virtually limitless amount of people.
Video conferencing services, such as Skype, allow you to continue a conversation you are having with someone in the digital world. Social networking is an efficient way to save time and create as many business connections as possible.
No Awkward Interactions
For anyone who feels nervous during social interactions, social media is a good way to get right to the point. Since you can learn about someone before you meet them in person, you won’t be short on topics to talk about. Conversing over social media also means you will have more time to think of clever things to say, so you can put your best foot forward during your first interaction.
The Price is Right
As long as you have a computer and Internet connection, social media comes at an unbeatable price: Free. How cool is it that there are one billion Facebook users you can reach out to for free?
Your time is the only investment you need to make to begin making connections. That being said, utilizing a graphic designer to design brand logos for your social media accounts is an effective way to grow your business. Doing so can also compel new people to connect with you, as compared to you spending your time looking for them.
All Around the World
In the past, your ability to network only extended to wherever you were, or anyone whose phone number you knew. Now, you have the globe at your fingertips, with people’s social media profiles accessible to you no matter where you are. This type of unbridled reach is far greater than with face-to-face networking.
It Takes More Time to Build Trust
Many fruitful business connections happen when both parties know and trust each other. It can be hard to reach that level of trust when both parties haven’t met face-to-face. Therefore, further in-person interaction may be necessary if you are looking to cultivate a deeper relationship.
Even if you are good with names and faces, seeing thousands of people on your computer screen means it’s going to be difficult to remember individuals. Your profile could also be lost in the flood of social media information. So, it's important to stand out.
Sometimes, people you meet during your everyday life become those who you start a kinship with. Those personal conversations can also lead to business conversations. While making connections on the Internet is great, sometimes a chance encounter is just what your business needs.
Get Online to Meet Up Offline
Thanks to the Internet, there are now many places where one can go to find face-to-face networking events. MeetUp provides social opportunities, with online information about business organizations helpful when attending their in-person events.
Save Time (In a Different Way)
Communicating in person can be the most efficient way to talk business with someone. There's nothing quite like looking someone in the eye.
A major benefit to meeting up in-person is the potential for chemistry and hitting it off with someone. Gestures, eye contact, and verbal cues are all things that make a conversation fun and exciting.
Harder to Make First Contact
If you are counting on making a connection by networking face-to-face, it can sometimes be very difficult to make the connection. Face-to-face networking doesn’t give you the reach that social media does.
You Don’t Know People Ahead of Time
Another issue with face-to-face networking is you don’t have the chance to do your research on someone before meeting him or her. Social media allows you to find out a lot about a person before you make contact, which can be a useful way to break the ice.
Happens Outside of Business Hours
Often, face-to-face networking events happen outside of business hours, meaning it’s likely you'll have to use your personal time to attend them. Social media allows you to make contacts at all hours of the day, minimizing the time you will need to take outside of your usual work hours.
Which is the Best Approach: Social Media or Face-to-Face Networking?
For most businesses, you’ll likely want to employ a combination of both. Using social media to connect with a wide range of potential leads, and then following up with promising connections face-to-face, is a wonderful way to yield the best results.
If your business focuses on marketing, public speaking, public relations, or e-commerce, focusing mainly on social media networking is an excellent idea. Using both techniques to varying degrees will allow you to yield the best results for your business.
ShaDrena Simon: ShaDrena is a digital strategist, inbound marketing expert, and resident graphic designer at Yokel Local Internet Marketing, an inbound marketing agency that helps business scale online through a customized system.