With the rise of the Internet and people using online services now more than ever, it would be easy to assume that face-to-face networking is a dying art. Why venture out of the house or office when you can contact anyone, anywhere in the world in a matter of seconds? And if you’re a bit shy and not fond of ‘working the room’, surely online networking is the way to go?
Online networking works well for many reasons:
You can reach a wider audience and therefore build a larger network
You can narrow down your searches to people in similar industries or who fit your target market
You can network at all hours of the day and night, and it’s fast
There’s no social awkwardness or fumbling over your words
However, online networking doesn’t allow you to build a memorable connection. You are just seen as typed words on a screen, not a person. You can’t greet anyone with your friendly smile, read body language, have a giggle over a joke or exchange business cards.
Online networking builds connections, but only on a superficial level.
Face-to-face networking gives you a better result because:
You can shake hands, look someone in the eye and get a real feel for who they are and what they represent. There is an element of recognition with face-to-face networking that you can’t get online.
You’re more likely to be referred to someone else if that person has met you face-to-face, because you have built some trust and rapport.
You develop a deeper connection with someone when you have met them in person. They (and you) are more memorable and the meeting has a greater chance of leading to a worthwhile business bond.
You can learn more from speaking to people and get inspired by hearing the struggles and triumphs of others.
Online networking and face-to-face networking are both valuable and will lead to great things if done correctly, however face-to-face networking is always going to allow you to collaborate more and achieve better results.
Remember, if you need a quick networking confidence boost, try our short 1 Day Business Networking Skills Course.