Traditional Networking Versus Online Connections
The business networking event is a familiar scene for professionals in most industries. A busy room is completely full of people looking to spread the word about their business and exchange company cards. Now, however, networking between businesses has been taken into the online sphere, with more companies relying on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and others to communicate and connect with relevant people.
It is not just networking between businesses and contacts that has changed; networking with clients and potential customers has also undergone a transformation. With the aid of social media, companies are coming into contact with thousands of potential clients across the globe, and keeping those already in your network up to date with your activities.
For those with networking skills in the real world, the thought of networking online can be somewhat daunting. Additionally, some may not see the value of digitally connecting over meeting someone face to face. However, digital networking is not as complicated as some might think, and it does relate to the skills needed to connect with someone in person.
Take as an example the online professionals’ network, LinkedIn. Requesting a connection with a complete stranger – one who may be across the world from you – can seem slightly odd to the seasoned business networker, but with the LinkedIn the connections between you and your target contact are significantly lessened. Forming a chain of connections, LinkedIn is very simple to use and can be a great platform for speaking about your business and linking to those who are in similar fields to you. With the addition of blog post and article publishing, LinkedIn is a great way to get your business in front of the people that matter.
Social networks such as Facebook and Twitter are also increasingly important for business connections. Getting involved in the topical discussions of the day on Twitter can put your business at the forefront of potential clients’ minds, who no doubt will be as active on Twitter as your company. Posting business news to your company’s Facebook page encourages connections in the real world as well as online. Facebook has roughly 1.23 billion monthly users; no networking event can boast that kind of exposure. Twitter has nearly 700 million active, registered users; again, this kind of connection potential can hardly be covered by company representatives at a networking event.
Perhaps the best approach is the combination of the two networking tactics. By becoming involved in groups on Facebook and Twitter, your company’s staff can then meet with the people at the forefront of your field in person. Rather than striving for that elusive meeting in person, you can establish a digital connection first, before then progressing to a face to face meeting that might lead to company development and further business contacts.
As the online world becomes a more prominent part of our offline world, businesses need to adapt to the changing times, and this means networking in a whole new way for company growth.