Social Networking Vs. “Real Life Networking:” Which Is Better?
I love Social Media and Social Networking! In my audiences where I speak, I see more and more serious business people are devoting time, money and effort to learn how to use these tools. Social Networking tools provide the ability to connect with others in ways that we never would otherwise. By using Twitter, I have connected with people that I would never have met in my normal life. I love Facebook as many “friends of friends” connect where we find common interests. I love YouTube as I’ve posted over 100 videos about various marketing topics and attract people around the world to see them.
Yet, I hear a conversation that is emerging more and more about the importance of being with real people in real places. Some say that they want a “real” contact. Hey, I understand. When it comes to Relationship Marketing, being available for paying customers and interacting with good people is always important. I personally find that I cherish more and more the quality, non-rushed times when I can be with friends around the world breaking bread, sharing a few drinks or just visiting and catching up with them.
Does this mean that we should throw away our Twitter accounts, “De-Friend” all our Facebook Friends and get rid of YouTube?
Not on your life!
I see it as not “either or, but both and.”
When you can connect with new customers at a level of interest and help them, that is great. Each of the social media tools has a unique advantage. I find that focusing on the “Top Four”
- Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin and YouTube - help to provide a reasonable connection with others for core business use. Then I use my WordPress Blog to be the focal point to provide value. This strategy is working for many today. It’s working for me.
Networking Help is Here
You connect with others in the real world through good old-fashioned meetings (remember those?). Participation in real-world meetings is as essential today as it ever was. We like to meet with people, see them in action, watch their reactions to various events and get to know them. Social Media is never going to replace that and it never tried to. 200 years ago people would get together face-to-face and discuss business and other aspects of life. When the printing press was developed and words could finally be communicated without the use of verbal-only communication, it made human connections better. A few years ago, email was derided as a tool that would diminish human communication. It has been used to enhance connections with people but it has to be used properly.
That is the key for marketers today. The tool is not the issue. We often like to make it about the tool. The issue is about your ability to connect with real paying customers in a value-for-value way. As you provide help to them you are able to establish, grow and nurture the relationship.
Whether in person or using the latest, greatest technology tool it is most important to connect with customers. Focus your business efforts on 1) Generating new business and 2) Keeping current customers giddy with glee because they are working with you.
Use current technology to serve customers, but don’t ever give up on live, direct connections with others. This happens through phone calls, hand-written letters (yes, they stand out in today’s world very well!) and physical face-to-face meetings. As new technologies come and go, it is the people connection that matters more than ever.
Constantly enhance your “people connecting” skills. Go to the networking meetings, seminars, conventions and other gatherings with the mind-set to help others. Contribute value first. After the meeting follow-up using the various tools of communication focusing on the preferred medium of your buyer (phone, email, Twitter, Facebook — whatever!). This combination of the human touch and leveraging technology is a sure-fire winner in any economy!
As a Relationship Marketer, you’ll be able to help others — and your own business — the more you focus on being there for other people to meet their needs. Use the tools for what they are meant to be. Focus on people and you will not only do well in business — but also in life.