Networking in the Digital Age

It’s Wednesday – Happy Hump Day!!!

hump day

This blog was originally intended as a way to share Marketing Insights, but as with all things it has morphed into a forum for Marketing Insights mixed with my own journey as an entrepreneur. The topic that hit me today for my blog post was Networking in the Digital world. As I am quickly gaining Twitter and Instagram followers, this concept of networking and meeting potential marketing partners and clients struck me as a bit amazing and odd at the same time.

It’s amazing and odd to me because you can literally reach thousands of people, get them to follow you and engage in conversation via social media channels with the push of a button – but at the same time, you don’t know what that person looks like nor can you read body language to gauge if the interest is real or if it’s just a fishing expedition. My overall sense is that the ease of networking is a huge improvement over the days of having to cold call prospects, going door-to-door or using an expense account to schmooze a prospect over drinks and dinner, but we’ve lost some of the humanity that made the old methods fun.

The Pros of networking in a digital age are limitless, as I am quickly learning. I’ve done social media marketing for clients and secondarily witnessed the power these sites have to drive followers, prospects and leads – but doing it for yourself really brings it home. In the past few days, I’ve seen both my IG and Twitter account grow by hundreds and these are good leads – local chamber of commerce, rotary, small business networks and other marketing firms. This is all accomplished by having a clear posting strategy in both content and timing – as well as maintaining a consistent branding strategy. In years past to build a contact list like this, one would have had to do direct mail promotions, cold calls and more labor intensive (and much more costly) marketing strategies. The ease of the process married with the fact there is no cost really makes networking a pleasurable task.

A great story to share is a follow I received on Twitter from one of the local event venues. After the follow, we opened up a DM chat and I was able to share my website and marketing services. In return, I was extended a discount to go see one of the performances with perks!!!!

However, I did mention that I found the process a bit odd as well. I willingly admit that I am old-fashioned in a lot of ways. I am not the person who reacts like this if I don’t have my phone:

no phone

Although the networking was a bit more laborious in the past, there was the relationship building part of talking to prospects on the phone or in person. A quick Google search will pull up multiple articles on the loss of the human touch in business networking. I, for one, enjoy meeting a potential client or marketing partner for coffee or drinks. It gives you a chance to sit down across from the person and really connect – talk about business, families, sports and other topics.

It’s the bond that really solidifies the sale or partnership – because we all want to work with clients and partners we like. As opposed to texting a stranger in a DM or email, where both parties are probably multi-tasking and see the other side as written words on a screen. The inability to read facial expressions which allow you to shift your sales pitch is lost. The ability to use humor or a simple gesture like a handshake (and no an emoji of a handshake does not count) are lost. These things matter in relationship building and the digital age does not offer them.

The insight I can glean from this experience (and will share with clients) is take full advantage of Digital advertising and networking. Use these platforms to get as many followers/leads/partners/brand ambassadors as you can. Start the conversation with them in the electronic world – but when it come to closing the deal, meet them in person. There is a lot we can gain via our social media/digital networking – but the one thing that we can’t get from it, is that gut instinct that only personalized, face to face networking provides.

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