By Amelia ClarkLast week I discussed why you and your business should be networking with social media. Today I would like to address those of you who are completely comfortable managing your 3 twitter feeds, Facebook profile with 2 fan pages, LinkedIn, Myspace, 4 blogs, 26 Flickr groups, and various message boards (we won’t even get started on social gaming or the cat-lovers’ forums), but are not comfortable networking the old fashioned way. I know a lot of people who can manage 2000 Twitter followers brilliantly, but put them in a room with 50 people and they spend the whole time tweeting about it.
Do not, I repeat DO NOT, take face-to-face networking for granted. Research from CEIR ( http://www.ceir.org/ ) proved years ago that face-to-face experiences are inherently more memorable than virtual ones. You want people to remember you, your services or products, and your business, right? If you’re good with social networking applications, you might be surprised how effective face-to-face networking can be for you.
Think about it like this: people respond to your tweets/posts/blogs when you strike a chord, when you are addressing issues they find important or interesting. If someone responds to a tweet, you acknowledge their interest and develop a conversation with them. When someone follows you, you check them out and see if what they are offering in the way of content is interesting to you.
The face-to-face networking process works the same way – you meet someone new and you both try to figure out if there is common interest, mutual need, possible advantages to the relationship, how you can help each other, etc. You are exploring possibilities. From a business perspective, you collect followers and friends so you have a wider audience for your product – face-to-face, you collect business cards and accounts.
Always remember, the same rules apply to both face-to-face and digital networking: be friendly but not overbearing, listen to others, contribute to the interaction, and follow up. YOU NEVER KNOW – what others will find interesting, important, or useful about you or your content, who you will meet, what they do, or what you can do for each other until you talk to them and find out, whether its at a sponsored happy hour or online.