Networking on-line or offline?

Sep 27, 2010 by

I recently had a very interesting phone conversation. Well of course it was to me as I was discussing handling Social Media for a prospective client, but what was even more enlightening was a discussion we had where we considered the different ways we had approached networking.

Most people will probably approach networking in the traditional way, attending physical networking events be they breakfasts, seminars or chamber lunches and build their network of contacts from business cards and on LinkedIn, only then looking to broaden this by adding in the Social Media element.

I, on the other hand, did this about face, now there’s a surprise!  When I started out I had commitments that meant I couldn’t attend breakfast meetings, nor chamber lunches and the like.  That meant that all my networking happened online.  I started off on online forums, however, I soon found these frustrating, too many of the forums meant for start up businesses were full of whingers and whiners who expected someone else to do all the hard work for them, there were always more established business owners on there ready and willing to criticise the new comers and oftentimes ‘upstarts’ they believed them to be. It spoiled the whole tone of the forums for me and I began to lose interest.

One of the forums I had stayed with kept talking about Twitter.  That’s not for me, I was a die hard facebook girl who loves to talk, how could I possibly get my message across in 140 characters for goodness sake.  But as you know, I gave it a go and the rest is history.  My contacts and network have developed from those early forum days and Twitter. Yes I am active on LinkedIn now, I even have my own group on there, but the majority of people I am connected to have come from my social networking, not physical networking.  In fact until this past month I had never met any of my current clients other than the one who is local to me.  In the last month I have managed to meet up with three clients, be that socially or in a physical networking environment.

I have found Twitter much easier to understand than LinkedIn, however, it was pointed out to me that Twitter is a much more social medium which is more suited to my chatty nature.  LinkedIn is more professional and business like.  However, there is a place in my networking for both.  The beauty of Twitter is that I have people on there that I think of as friends, not business contacts, in a way Twitter is my social life as well, which is pretty handy considering that I am a busy working mum who doesn’t get much opportunity to enjoy a non virtual social life!

I often hear people say that they don’t have time for Social Media.  That’s fine. you can actually get us to look after it for you to some extent – we can post your blogs, update your Facebook page, schedule your tweets (we can never be you though so we do ask you to do some of your own tweeting), or monitor forums and discussions for relevant topics.

Tell me what works for your networking, what are your horror stories (I’m fortunate not to have any) and whether you prefer to do it online or offline! I await your comments with interest.

3 Comments

  1. Interesting article Helen.
    I need someway to tweet about my shops when I am not here. I can waffle on for England and post links all over the place but I still work and do only have my Nokia (3yrs old!) and my p.c.
    What would you suggest and how much would it cost.

    Regards, Jean

  2. admin

    Hi Jean

    I used a combination of scheduled Hootsuite tweets for time sensitive stuff, though each one has to be entered individually, and I also use Twaitter for the other scheduled tweets. This is a free service. What I would say is that this works best if you really have a lot of content spread out on there. I have noticed that my tweets despite being set perhaps a week apart look like they occur too often to me, and this is something I need to review, perhaps having more content on there. The other thing is to ensure that time sensitive tweets are removed at expiry, there’s nothing worse than an automated yet out of date tweet.

    What I would say with Twitter though is be yourself and do tweet normal tweets when you can, even if its just via your phone when you have a spare 5 mins. You didn’t say which phone you had but many of them now have apps you can download or access to the twitter mobile website.

    I hope this helps

    H

  3. Interesting article. I run a networking group and I have found that a combination of offline and online works best. It is great to meet people online but there is nothing like meeting somebody in person

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