Do you prefer to network online or face-to-face?
Before you answer, think deeply. Remember how Dale Carnegie’s world-famous sales book from 1936, “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” demystified the process of making friends out of strangers and inspired legions of business coaches to carry on Carnegie’s message?
Nothing beats face-to-face meetings, nothing. Business dealings are just better presented in person. Networking is also best in person. But that doesn’t mean that online networking isn’t valuable.
Online networking is a powerful tool to use in your arsenal.
Let’s break down the definitions of “business networking” and “social media networking.”
According to Wikipedia, business networking is a socioeconomic activity by which groups of like-minded business people recognize, create or act upon business opportunities. A business network is a type of social network, whose reason for existing is business activity. Business networking organizations create models of networking activity that, when followed, allow the business person to build new business relationships and generate business opportunities.
Business networking can be conducted on a larger scale via the Internet, which easily connects people from all over the world.
Social media networking, by my definition, is quite similar, but it has a couple major distinctive differences. Online is current, it is in real time, and it can be greatly influenced immediately by public opinion. However, online shouldn’t be the only tool we use, because sometimes it’s simply not the best one.
For me, the bottom line regarding face-to-face networking versus online networking is that I don’t think it should be an either-orscenario; I think it should be a both-and scenario if you want to build a strong personal network.
Effective social media branding requires a unique voice and personality and knowledge of the various social platforms. I am certain, as I have done it for my business and clients, that one can leverage social media marketing such as Facebook into real-time sales.
Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest and other social media sites typically give a good amount of design freedom and customization to users, and if used well, these are terrific mediums to gain notoriety and support.
I actually take a Dale Carnegie rule to heart in my social media management. When responding to a Tweet or Facebook post, repeat the person’s name. People like to hear their own name. Another one of Carnegie’s basic principles is that a person’s name is the sweetest sound to that person. So when you meet someone, use his name in conversation. Doing so makes the other person feel more comfortable, like you really know him and he knows you.
And isn’t that what building trust and relationships is all about?
Patti Neumann is the Baltimore-based founder/chief social thinker of the award-winning online food and wine guide CITYPEEK.com and CITYPEEK Social Media Strategies. To connect: Facebook Like Page, CITYPEEK Patti; Twitter @CITYPEEKpatti; or firstname.lastname@example.org.