Networking is essential to every business. Regardless of whether you provide products, services or simply information you will find the benefits that come from networking at every opportunity. The problem is that many who run online businesses have lost sight of the value that networking in person can bring. They often focus only on networking online and while successful that does not maximize their potential. If you are running a business, there are many reasons why you want to expand your networking to include those face-to-face interactions.
One thing you often cannot accomplish online is building a rapport with those you are talking to. Though it does happen on occasion, generally online interactions leave out the personal touch. When you are face-to-face with others you have the ability to connect on a deeper level. This gives them the ability to like you from the beginning and want to find out more about your business. They will be more likely to visit your website because they remember you and the bond that you developed.
Part of the reason you develop that bond is because your personality shows through. This does not happen online. Written interaction can never replace that which happens in person. You are able to show a genuine interest in the other person, express opinions and strong emotion about your business and showcase the reasons that they should consider your business for their needs. Online you can stop at simply being a name that is trying to push their website. In person you become an actual person that has feelings and emotions. You become someone that the other person can believe in and want to support. This is a reaction that typically does not come from online interactions. When you are face-to-face you are selling yourself as much as the product or service.
That being said, selling your product is just as important. That is why these in person networking opportunities should not be passed up. When you are networking online you have limited time and space to sell anything to anyone before losing their interested. Your words must be perfect and quick. Otherwise they will move on to something else. In person you have an extended time frame to point out why your website is much better than the competition. Adding the personal touch and your own personality makes it easier to hold their attention for longer periods of time and provides much better results.
When you network in person you are putting a face with the name that you are trying to sell. Many people like that aspect of business. When they feel they know someone and know the product they are more likely to make that choice. That is not to say that you should rule out online networking completely. Everything has a time and place. An equal combination of the two will have the best effect on your business. This is why it is important to view every opportunity as one that is optimal for networking.
What do you think? Let me know in the comments below!