Is Social Media Ringing a Death Knell For Face To Face Business Networking?

Slowly but surely the business world is starting to understand what social media is all about and how it can be used to establish and develop new relationships. The “why is anyone interested in what I had for breakfast” question about Twitter is being replaced by recognition that joining the Twitter conversation can be beneficial.

I use Twitter all the time to find new business and I can’t stress enough the two most important points for getting the most out of this medium:-

  1. Listen – Make use of the search facility to find out what’s going on and what people are saying, use hashtags to find the most appropriate conversations to take part I.
  2. Engage – Many refer to Twitter as a microblog and this analogy implies that it should be regarded as a blog i.e. a vehicle for broadcasting information. Nothing could be further from the truth, the beauty of Twitter is all about building relationships through on-line conversation, helping people and giving.

Now I accept that there are a lot of users on Twitter that broadcast links to affiliate programs in the vague hope that someone will click and buy but think about it this way:-

Just because they do it, doesn’t mean that it works.

How many get rich quick programs do you see on the internet? It’s these guys who take your money and tell you to do this type of broadcast tweet.

Returning to the two most important points about Twitter that I made above, read them again and ask yourself how close are they to the fundamental techniques of face to face business networking? Pretty close and in essence the desired and achieved results are the same. So if that’s the case, why should I bother getting out of bed at 05.30 in the morning to sit in a room with others and then feel tired for the rest of the day? Why not just enjoy a leisurely breakfast and then see what’s cooking on Twitter?

I attended a face to face business networking group recently, a new one and I attended as a guest. As I walked in the door I felt a little nervous but deep down I know that when the first conversation started, I would feel more at ease. Guess what? Nobody took the trouble to come and talk to me!

No official welcome. Nothing. Of course I made the best of it and opened up a few conversations myself and I have to say that a couple of inquiries did emerge and I managed to start a new relationship that looks positive and could be of mutual benefit but overall I still left the meeting wondering why I had bothered.

My belief is that if face to face business networking is going to survive then it’s going to have to do better than this. If it’s possible to build relationships and find new business using the new age of social media then face to face business networking has to make itself more user friendly especially when it comes to welcoming new guests and making them feel comfortable.

Ironically, the discussion point in the meeting was “how to grow the group”! I’m not sure whether this comes from too much navel gazing or not enough but if this is reflective of the standard of face to face business networking generally then I’ll stick with social networking and have a lie in bed.