Professional Networking has become an essential component to growing a business, generating quality leads and building strong business relationships. In comes Social Networking – a place where individuals, companies and organizations can gather and communicate with one another virtually, instead of face-to-face. Social Networking has now made is so simple to connect with people and brands, and maintain an ongoing relationship, right? Well, sort of. While social networking has undoubtedly made networking and maintaining relationships easier, can social networking completely take the place of professional networking? We don’t think so. Here’s why:
Benefits of face-to-face interactions
1. Putting a face to the name
The majority of the world’s population are visual learners. As humans, we tend to be more engaged and interested in something we can participate in rather than talk about. So just the simple fact of being able to put a face to a name and have a physical interaction with someone can help that relationship become more meaningful for both parties.
2. Non-verbal communications
More than half of all communication (55%) is non-verbal! Imagine how much sentiment is potentially lost when a relationship maintains purely virtual!
3. Comfort, trust and personalization
Seeing is believing, right? Absolutely. Having the opportunity to engage in relationships face-to-face builds trust between the parties. We are able to personalize our interactions and not be limited to an online forum. Conversations over coffee or lunch have a higher potential of growing and lasting than conversations had over instant message.
Just as there are benefits to face-to-face interactions, there are some benefits to integrating social networking into your relationships as well. People tend to be a bit more open with their interests on social media. Social networking allows you to discover that new prospect’s favorite TV show and music group after the first time meeting – information that would be difficult to uncover in a first face-to-face meeting. Social networking allows a more multi-channel approach to maintaining your relationships.
Networking Balance and Harmony
The best approach to networking and maintaining meaningful relationships comes down to a balance between the two methods. Relationships come in all different shapes and sizes and can be maintained through many different forms. Interacting with your connections socially and professionally is the best way to gain that trust, loyalty and advocacy.