Online Networking or Offline Networking?
posted on October 9, 2006
The Statesman ran an interesting article this morning in the business section: “Pulling the plug on MySpace, Facebook.” The article talked about people who were deleting their online profiles on MySpace because they were only building networks of acquaintances, not real relationships.
I’m often asked about online networking vs. offline networking. At the end of the day there is no substitute for time spent face to face with someone. There’s just no way to replicate that type of interaction. Most of the successful online networkers I know can literally work anywhere in the world, and their networks are very broad. This can work, but I know that their relationships aren’t nearly as deep.
For most people they do business in a specific geographic area. It might be small like the city of Austin, or it might be larger, like the state of Texas. In most cases, they still have the opportunity to get some face time with their clients and prospects.
In my book online networking is an enhancement to the more traditional form of belly to belly networking. It’s great from a visibility standpoint. If someone loses your card how will they find you again? Many members of NetworkInAustin.com are found by Internet users Googling their name or company name. Without their profile they might not have been found and lost out on an opportunity for a referral or new business.
A service like LinkedIn can also be used to see who your fellow networkers know. This can expose opportunities that you probably would not have known existed otherwise. But don’t expect to build new relationships just because you’re on LinkedIn. Relationships take time to develop, and most of the time that involves sitting down together in person.
Use online networking tools to enhance the business networking that you’re doing, but not as a replacement. There’s no substitute for building human relationships if you’re going to succeed in your networking efforts.
Author: Scott Ingram