Tuesday, July 11, 2006
Jan Vermeiren has a post on his "The Networking Coach's Blog" this week about "Online or Offline Networking" where he answers the question: "Do we need offline networking events when we have online networking websites?"
Jan lives in Belgium and is an author and professional speaker on the topic of building networking connections. He states that this question about "online vs offline" networking is one that always comes up following his presentations. I find this very interesting, because it is the same question I hear after every talk I give on the subject in the United States.
People around the world know that having a network is important for business success....but they still are hoping for a shortcut. But there is no way to instantly create a network, or to just sign up online and have it happen by magic. It takes work (note that the middle of the word NETWORKING is the word "work")
I believe that online sites such as LinkedIn or ecademy are just tools that can help people make connections. But meeting someone (in person or via an online service) does not make them part of your network. To really build a relationship you still need to have multiple and meaningful interactions with them.
While it is nice to create and electronic link to someone, that link does not make them your friend, a business referral source or a trusted advisor.
These online sites do make it interesting to see who our friends know, but that knowledge alone does not lead to new business. To really network we must build mutually beneficial relationships. It is give and take. It is about knowing the other person's business needs and finding ways to make their life easier....and vice versa.
Use online tools if they work for you, but do not pretend that an electronic link is really a friendship. Just like in online dating, sending a few emails is no replacement for what can be done "face-to-face".
Have A Great Day.