It’s not surprising to see a significant shift of practices when it comes to business networking. The world has adopted new ways to network that are no longer limited to face-to-face interactions. For a long time, business owners have attended meetings, events, and tradeshows to expand their contact base. Today, thanks to fast-paced technology, online networking sites have become common in the realm of making business connections.
You can connect with countless individuals in the click of a button. However, the question is, are these virtual connections as valuable as personal interactions? Could they even be more valuable? Read on to find out more about the difference between online networking and in-person networking, and how you can use both to your advantage.
Online vs Face-to-face networking
Face-to-face meetings allow you to express yourself in ways you can’t online. Being able to read body language and gestures helps communication, and some argue that communication is truly more effective and better when there’s a level of personal interaction.
But, through online-based platforms, networking can be done virtually anywhere, via various social media sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook. These sites are where businesses often connect with potential customers.
Connecting online has opened doors for business owners to not only attract customers, but also have a platform to share ideas and obtain important contacts throughout the process. There are webinars for business owners to attend without having to leave their home or their office. Video calls made through Skype and FaceTime also allow people to connect and communicate anywhere. The virtual world has made all of this possible, and business owners who are looking to expand their businesses globally finally have a simple means to do so.
However, some businesses now rely so much on social networking that they fail to attend face-to-face networking events. Though online networking can significantly broaden your contact base, in-person networking still manages to give you a more tangible and personal means of connecting.
The truth of the matter is virtual networking is not automatically better. Managing to connect with these people on a personal level will require more effort and sincere dedication. Similarly, you need to virtually network to support your face-to-face meetings, in order to keep pace with the competition.
Balance is critical
To truly make your connection worthwhile—whether on- or off-line—you need to have both real and virtual networking. Merging the two methods will allow you to achieve the best growth for your networks and client base, and potentially increase sales. There are four main steps to doing this:
- Build an online presence through social networking pages.
- Make sure your content is updated and you engage with your contacts regularly using the right tone and wording.
- Arrange face to face meetings with your virtual connections if possible.
- Exchange contacts with the people you meet, and follow up via call, email, or social media.
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