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Social Networking Does Not Replace In-Person Networking

Nancy Marshall, CEO of Nancy Marshall Communications

From time to time, I meet with young professionals who are starting out in their careers and need to make connections. Some of them have the idea that they can use LinkedIn and Facebook exclusively to make connections without actually meeting people face to face.  I discourage them from relying solely on their computers for networking. Instead, I advise them to join chambers of commerce, boards of trustees, and other civic groups to meet people in person.

Online social networking is a great way to initially connect with people, but it’s no substitute for developing relationships over the long term. I recommend that you always seek out opportunities to meet with people face-to-face. It’s great to use LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest or other social networks before, during, or after your in-person interaction but the goal should always be to get together and do something in person. Social networks are a great way to keep track of people in between your in-person meetings.

You can’t truly get to know a person when both of you are behind your computer or smart phone screen. The best (and the worst) of people comes out during face-to-face interactions. I worry about young people who think they have ‘friends’ based on the number of connections they have on Facebook. These might be people who know your name and know what you look like, but until you’ve spent time with a person, you can’t really decide whether they are your friend or not.

My advice is to seek out the people you want to get to know either for personal or professional reasons, and invite them to lunch, or for drinks, or to a baseball game, or to go skiing or biking or hiking.  You may meet these people in a variety of settings but professional networking groups such as chambers of commerce, Rotary Club, Kiwanis and even BNI (Business Networking International) are good places to start.

There’s nothing like a campfire to pull together a group of people as
true friends. In May, we had a group of French students who were
visiting my son Jamie’s school over to our house a potluck dinner and
a campfire. We sang, told stories, and had a wonderful time together.
This is where true friendships are made.

There are so many fun things to do with old and new friends that will strengthen your relationship, but you need to make an effort to get these things on your calendar and extend your circle of influence.  Once you get together and enjoy these times together, you can post photos of yourselves on Facebook and other social networks, and share stories about what you did.

It’s easy to spend most of your time with your family and old friends, but for professional growth and development, you should make an effort to make new contacts and expand your circle of friends.

 

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