We all know that digital and social media efforts are a key part of making connections in today’s technology centered world. It can’t be avoided and unlike the world even two or three years ago, social media outreach on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, LinkedIn, and other such sites is now a minimum requirement for companies and also for people looking to get into their chosen career field. Digital contact really does work wonders, allowing us to discover and reach out to people who we may never have had contact with otherwise.
But last week at Blog World, I learned a very important lesson about connectivity:
It doesn’t matter how many websites you’re on, or how astounding your posts are, you cannot forget about actual physical connection with your target audience.
Game Changers in Digital Media
Oddly enough, I learned this at a conference that was specifically geared towards digital expansion. I was lucky enough to be invited onto the team for Blog World, working as a volunteer and recording the panel discussions. All of the sessions I recorded were fantastic; I had panels on topics such as “Should I Build an App for My Web Series,” “Making Money from your Favorite Niche Market,” and “Break All the Rules: How to Turn Your Passion into a Multi-Million Dollar Business,” among others. The speakers ranged from people who run podcasts with millions of subscribers to small business owners who want to share their tips for success, and everyone in between. There was even a special appearance by Aaron Yonda, one of the guys who created, writes, and plays Chad Vader in the character-titled web series. They were all obsessed with digital marketing; I would even go so far as to say that some of those panels were just beautiful love notes to the internet. But the thing I found interesting is that, in every single panel, every speaker mentioned how important it is to go out and speak face-to-face with customers. This point was underlined, italicized, bolded, shouted from the podium, and emphasized to the audience behind rolled eyes: “What do you mean, you’re not physically interacting with your customers?!”
At first it seemed counter-intuitive that panelists, who just spent the better part of an hour waxing romantically about online interaction, would tell me to go out and actually be with people.
Yet it’s the only way to ensure 100% true connectivity.
Limits of Online Networking
Yes, digital communication is great, but it’s even better when combined with traditional connection. For an intern/job seeker example, judge which is better: a candidate who just sends an email, or one who invites a possible employer out to lunch or meets the employer at a conference or networking event and also sends an email?
For a more personal example, I met up with some old intern friends from my days at Sterling Publishing this week. BEA (Book Expo America) was also conveniently going on at the same time as Blog World, so everyone happened to be in town. I’ve kept in contact with them through Facebook and Twitter, and thus have spoken with them almost every week, so I didn’t think we’d have too much to catch up on, but still thought lunch would be nice. However, as soon as I saw them, they all asked what I was up to nowadays, job-wise. I was really astounded; how could they not know? All of my work information is on Facebook and LinkedIn, and I’m friends with all of them on there. Then I realized, I actually didn’t know what any of them did either. I’ve visited their online profile pages several times to leave comments and such, but none of the information on there actually stuck with me. So, I passed out my business cards, and they did the same; as it turns out, one of my former intern buddies who graduated long before me works for a company that I had submitted my resume to. And I had no idea. I could have used her as a reference (not that I’m complaining about my current job, but don’t you always wonder “What if?”) and my resume may have been given greater heft in the candidate pool.
Handshakes and Smiles as Currency
So the big takeaway is this: do what you can digitally, but don’t forget about networking physically. A handshake and meaningful smile could mean the difference between getting a job and getting a rejection.
What do you think about connecting digitally versus connecting physically?
Next week we’re hosting a great event on how to Conquer Summer Networking. You should come – you’ll get to hear from folks who turned networking into opportunities. So see you Wednesday, June 20th at Meetup HQ? Did we mention there’s going to be free food?
Learn more about the ROI of Networking.