The Value of Face-to-Face: Why It Will Always Trump Social Networking

BY: ON FRIDAY, OCTOBER 26, 2012

When I began my life as an entrepreneur, the biggest challenge I faced was forcing myself to get out and meet the right people – the people who could either bring me clients or become clients. This was long before the onslaught of blogs, Facebook, Twitter and other tools that bring people together virtually, every day. This was back in the 1990s – and for an introvert like myself, the idea of networking was frightening! After all, what if people didn’t like me?

Networking is such a big part of being a business owner, there is no way around it. While some people think today’s social media tools can replace the face-to-face work of rising, showering, dressing for success, grabbing keys to hop in the car and drive to your latest event…where you will meet dozens of other professionals,  it can’t. No amount of social networking will ever replace the value of the true face-to-face meeting. Even when you spill coffee on yourself, as I did more than once.

Let’s compare – social networking exists in one place: online. I’m talking about Facebook, Twitter, blogs, LinkedIn and any of the myriad of other social media tools used to connect people today. You create an account, you invite friends to connect, you share insight, stories and articles relevant to your business purpose and you count many of the people you interact with, as friends or even colleagues. These are people who like many of the same things you like. These are people who have a relationship not only with you, or your online persona, but with other people who could be important to your business as clients or shoppers. Your online network grows exponentially – according to how often you engage with the people in it. And, it offers an easy way to make ‘friends’.

Offline, those face-to-face meetings you often dread because they require effort, yes, effort… more effort than hitting a few keys on a keyboard…are more engaging and interactive than any of your online tools. Meeting people in a coffee shop, at a luncheon, or even for cocktails, is how you create a true foundation for success. It’s in the touch of a hand – firm, solid, warm; it’s in the smile that greets you – sincerity showing in someone’s eyes; it’s in the twinkle of those eyes – the “glad to see you” message shared in that split moment of connection.

Face-to-face gives you more of an advantage in its very nature. It shows you made the effort to go beyond typing in a software tool, to be present and open, in person. It allows you to carry on a private conversation – voice-to-voice, rather than trying to type paragraphs in an email box – hoping the reader understands the nuances. It promotes sharing in different ways than online – ways that are more personal.

Yes, we can get to know someone by reading their blog, daily or weekly. A blog can share a person’s intimate thoughts, and help build a relationship that has positive aspects to it. Surely, we all feel connected to our favorite author, or the news reporter we read in our favorite business publication. But, do we really know them? Do we, instead, know about them… and translate that into their personality or life focus? Is that enough?

It’s not enough. You must meet people in an offline setting, shake hands, laugh, share stories that include nuances of facial expression, body language, tone of voice. It is only by bringing your story to a face-to-face meeting that you can climb in your car and drive home, thinking, “I really connected to Phil tonight.”

People are not meant to live in a vacuum, as if words on a webpage or voices over the phone, can substitute for the sensation of a person’s presence – the sound of their laughter – the nod of their head. It’s in these moments of transparency, face-to-face, that you learn who your friend is and whether or not all the words you read on his blog or on his Facebook page make sense. It’s in the humanity of being in the same room that you cement your relationship and begin to find ways to possibly work together, or share other ways to build that success factor you need, as an entrepreneur.

About the Author

Yvonne DiVita

Yvonne DiVita is the author of Dick*less Marketing: Smart Marketing to Women Online, the premier book on marketing to women online and president of Windsor Media Enterprises, LLC which specializes in Publishing 3.0 using print-on-demand. Yvonne is an active blogger starting with her women’s marketing blog, Lipsticking.com.

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