No social media is not going to replace face to face networking, but it is having a dramatic impact on it. How we build relationships is changing and Social Media is moving that change forward. Here are five reasons that you should be blending the two.
Social Media allows you to move your relationship forward before you even meet the person face to face. Relationships take time, using tools like Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin allow you move those relationships forward before you even sit down over a cup of coffee with them.
Social Media allows you to enrich your relationships. I do not have time to meet with or call all of the people I have relationships with or whom I want to advance an relationship with. By being connected with them on Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin I am able to keep up with what is important in their lives and their business. Next time I see them I can pick up the conversation.
Social Media allows me to pass referrals to other members of my network. There was a big storm in my community and many people were posting and commenting on the damage that they experienced. It was not hard to recommend to them someone else in my network who could help them with their problems.
Social Media allows me to build my credibility as a connector, someone who can be trusted. Building relationships requires that I share myself as well and I can do that not only as my business but as an individual. People do business with people, they do not care about the company you work for if they trust you.
Social Media allows me to educate my network. When I meet them face to face we can have a deeper conversation about what I do or what they do. It is not possible to educate a person completely about my business and frankly that is not the way that I want to spend my time when I am with someone. By linking my bolgs or having meaningful conversation on my Social Media sites I have the opportunity to educate and connect.
Frankly, most of us are not going to refer our best customers or closest friends and family to people we have not met, a stranger on Facebook is still a stranger until I meet them. After all, we can be anyone we choose to be online, but once I have met my online friends offline, I am able to continue to build a quality relationship. Even if you are using online dating services, you are not going to marry someone and never meet them face to face, those meetings are important to move things forward.
If you are not using Social Media to enhance and enrich your face to face networking you are missing out on a great many rich relationships and possible opportunities.