Virtual Connections Are Just The First Step
In today’s business world you are expected to have an online presence. An online presence consisting of a website and accounts with one, or more, of the many social media networks: LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter. The list continues to grow.
While you are maintaining all this, you have to make sure you are monitoring the growth and message of your online presence. Online reputation management is just another aspect of virtual growth.
In an effort to wear your many business hats stop and ask yourself: Is your attention to maintaining and growing your online presence taking over the time you need to invest in building and maintaining your offline relationships?
As noted by blogger, Deborah Shane, “Blending your online and offline activities is important because today, people are communicating and engaging equally in both places. The online and offline worlds are interdependent and interrelated.”
So you have 2,000+ Facebook followers and 1000+ LinkedIn connections. Great. Now what? Are you converting those? If yes, good for you. You have found a balance between virtual growth and real life growth. If no, how are you trying to convert them?
In reality, nothing can take the place of a face-to-face meeting. Although it is easier to shoot out an email, a potential connection can be lost due to a misinterpreted tone of the email. Realize when it is best to pick up the phone and make it personal.
Bottom line: we all want something! LinkedIn is a perfect example. You won’t find your Aunt Ida talking about her dog’s new sweater on your LinkedIn feed. What you will find is Aunt Ida’s other persona as banking executive connecting with like professionals and potential clients. You’ll find banker Ida sharing news on the financial industry and joining groups that further her career path.
Online connecting is a good initial step in networking with a potential business contact. But what comes after you ‘connect’ or ‘friend’? Well, that depends on your aspirations and goals.
If social is part of your marketing and business growth strategy, good. You can’t leave it all online and expect great things to happen. Nothing beats the face-to-face meeting for sharing who you are, your personality, your intensity for your business, your passion for moving mountains to grow your business.
Body language, a firm handshake and the ability to meet someone’s eyes are all a part of creating a real life network that can help you move career paths. So, use the social media networks to get your foot in the door, and your personality and passion for success to seal the deal.
How do you turn those virtual connections into real relationships? Invest the time. While preparing for the interaction, remember the importance of the synergy between yourself and the potential client. Respect their time to avoid them regretting your connection on LinkedIn during the cold call. In the virtual world, remember your reputation can quickly find shaky ground if someone posts that you are a spammer. Find the connection that has mutual growth potential for both parties.
Once the right fit for growth is found, connect via email and set up a phone conversion. Follow up by setting up a meeting and begin to build a relationship. If time or geography prevents you from meeting in person, use one of many online collaboration tools like Go To Meeting or Skype (more on online collaboration tools in my next article).
The moral of the story is simple. Do not mistake a virtual connection for a real one. Online networking is just the first step of many in building meaningful business relationships.
By: Whitney Messervy, CRS Media Blogger
Quote from: Why Networking in Person Still Matters by: Deborah Shane http://smallbiztrends.com/2011/02/why-networking-in-person-still-matters.html