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Is “Social Media” Networking’s Nirvana? Possibly Not!

Posted in Marketing Tips

According to a guest post on Duct Tape Marketing by Susan Wilson Solovic, CEO and co-founder of SBTV.com (as in Small Business TV), she prefers to network “the old fashion way.” Her post probes the issue whether anyone really knows what networking means anymore.

Before I turn off my LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter friends, let me quickly say that of course social media is, and will be even more so in the future, a great networking source. And Susan is an active participant on those networks as well.

Her point is that “[r]eal networking is about real people and real relationships. So she says, “let’s get back to the basics and best practices of networking.”  Here are her “three rules for effective networking – the old fashioned way”:

  1. Be Committed. Don’t be looking for Instant gratification. It isn’t in the cards. Rather building a “solid foundation of relationships” is what it will take over time. Spend time listening, asking probing questions and finding things you have in common. Susan suggests an opening question like “Tell me about yourself;”
  2. Develop a Relationship. Tons of business cards (or “follows” online) isn’t the answer. After an event, she suggests sending an email (ugh, handwritten note is much better) with a copy of an article or link to information about a topic you talked about.  Then, of course, more follow up after more follow up should continue; and
  3. Give, give, give. Think of ways to help someone before asking for referrals or otherwise seeking something from them. By being willing to help the other person first, you will become known as the go-to person, and your network will become very strong in the process. So, ask the question “How can I help you?,” Susan suggests.

Okay, okay. I can hear a thousand of you lawyers out there (Susan is a lawyer, BTW) saying “wait a minute, you can do those things via social media too.” True, but can you do them as well? Or is social media the best way to network? IMHO, whenever or wherever possible, the best networking is still face-to-face interaction. It is not as easy for some for sure. But having a million online acquaintances, by itself, is not the answer.

So, don’t hide in front of your computer monitor. Get out there and network in person…after tweeting your heart away, of course.

  • http://www.lynnjackson.com Michelle Kane

    Nice, short, clear article. I agree — it’s all about the relationship and face to face is always best. The nice thing about social media is that it such a nice compliment to our in person networking.

  • http://debrahelwig.wordpress.com Debra Helwig

    Great post, Tom. I think the key here is “do all things, with moderation in all things.”
    I’ve made some very valuable contacts via Twitter and LinkedIn – introductions that opened (or are opening) the door to further conversations via telephone and in person. Sending a tweet sure beats the time lag and effort of photocopying an article and mailing it with a “thought of you” post it note, but it can’t top the benefits of an hour-long one-on-one conversation.
    At the end of the day, social media is a tool for opening the door and continuing the conversation, not a substitute for personal interaction and relationships built over time.

  • http://debrahelwig.wordpress.com Debra Helwig

    Great post, Tom. I think the key here is “do all things, with moderation in all things.”
    I’ve made some very valuable contacts via Twitter and LinkedIn – introductions that opened (or are opening) the door to further conversations via telephone and in person. Sending a tweet sure beats the time lag and effort of photocopying an article and mailing it with a “thought of you” post it note, but it can’t top the benefits of an hour-long one-on-one conversation.
    At the end of the day, social media is a tool for opening the door and continuing the conversation, not a substitute for personal interaction and relationships built over time.

  • http://www.HardingCo.com/blof Ford Harding

    Tom
    Thanks for the thoughtful post. Some of the most effective users of LinkedIn I know use it as an element in their networking mix, not as a substitute for traditional means. It can help you do the traditional stuff better. So, for example, I can see if someone in my network is linked to a person a friend wants to meet, saving a dozen phone calls done the old way.

  • http://www.LegalEaseConsulting.com Allison Shields

    Tom:
    Social networking seems to be the theme of the month. I agree wholeheartedly that there is no real substitute for face to face meetings, and that in person connections establish stronger bonds in a shorter period of time. But a great deal of business is done long distance these days and relationships can be developed and cultivated on line. Of course, to establish a real, long-lasting relationship, your online communications should be supplemented by offline interactions wherever possible. If distance separates you and your contact, at least pick up the telephone once in a while. And of course, a handwritten note certainly doesn’t hurt!
    As I noted in my post yesterday on tips for making connections on social media sites, follow up is crucial in the virtual world, just as it is in the ‘real’ world.

  • Lisha Fabris

    Great post. I have to say I lean on both sides of this fence. On a personal note, I agree one-on-one connections are ALWAYS best. However, through social media, you can certainly feel connected to a person without ever meeting them or speaking to them. And when you finally do see each other, you are certainly more than acquaintances. (Of course, so many people have more personality on line than in person so it could all backfire in the end. Ha.)