Why You Should Network in Person as Well as Online
I’ll be the first to admit, I like networking online better than in person. I’m introverted and shy, so the in person stuff feels like more of a chore to me. Even so, I manage it because it’s important. Despite the time it takes, networking in person has some advantages over online networking.
The Personal Touch
Networking in person is simply more personal. You meet the person, not the profile. And while you can absolutely make great friends online, people you meet in person are more likely to stand out in your memory. You can exchange business cards, which are a physical reminder of the people you met, even if it’s only noticed during the annual Cleaning Out of the Wallet. There’s still a chance that they’ll want to contact you with that little reminder.
It can also be fun. Networking in person may be as incidental as chatting someone you meet in line at the store, to as deliberate as attending an industry event. Either way, there’s the thrill of finding someone interested in what you do.
Industry events, such as Affiliate Summit or BlogWorld for those who run online businesses, also offer the chance to meet people at all levels in your industry. People at events range from “was I ever that new?” all the way to “I want to be that good.” Networking with all sorts can have a lot of value. You never know which contact you make will be a big help to you… or them, which may benefit you as well.
Meeting in person means you aren’t just one of the faceless hoards (no matter if your profile has a picture or not), trying to make contact with that person. You’ve shared at least a little time together. It’s easier for your personality to show, and in ways that don’t show online.
It may also be easier to agree to take action. Online networking may be fast, but it usually takes several messages back and forth before you decide to take action. In person, you might hit it off well enough to get further along in the process. You can take things as far as you care to before needing to do research or having a little time to think it over, and get answers to questions immediately if you’re in person. Online takes a lot more back and forth. That’s good if you need to research things, but can really slow you down otherwise.
You Can Move Personal Contacts Online
Meeting someone in person means you have one more person to network with online. Once you’ve made that connection in person, you can continue it online or in person as you will. There’s still something to be said for meeting in person with people you already know, but that’s no reason to neglect the sheer convenience of online discussions.
Of course, the reverse is also true. You may have networked with someone online, but meeting them in person can improve your business relationship.
Obviously, I’m not saying neglect your online networking for meeting people in person. Both are valuable. Just keep a good mix and you’ll find valuable contacts and people to work with.
Take action. Network online. Network in your community. Network at conferences. You never know where the next great connection will happen for you.