Finding a reason to leave your computer and meet a colleague in person can be hard to justify. Given the conveniences of social media, is there a benefit to meeting face to face? Absolutely.
Since the day business was born, networking has been used as a consistent tool in growth and development. Yet, as generations come and go, business tactics evolve and technology improves, we inevitably see a change in how networking occurs. It’s simply the nature of the beast. Yet, as the prevalence for social media in business and education continues, we are seeing an interesting trend that tends to downplay the importance for actual face to face meetings. Anymore, networking consists of Facebook status updates and page invites, conversations through tweets, LinkedIn invitations, blog comments, and even simple email communication. And though we are still networking in a sense, what we’re seeing is a two-fold dilemma.
On one hand, with the conveniences that electronic media brings to our society, we are in constant communication with one another. We are always “in the know” and are rarely in the dark with what’s happening around us. The ease we have with communication across cities, nations and time zones creates an unrivaled accessibility that would simply blow the minds of generations past. On the other hand, the reliance we have on technology renders the idea of face to face communication as unnecessary and frankly, inconvenient. The problem with this common viewpoint? Networking in person is incredibly beneficial.
Robby Slaughter, one of AccelaWork’s principals, discusses how networking is marketing in a guest post on the Indiana Society of Association Executives blog. This fantastic post brings to light the importance for personal networking amid our daily use of social media. In it, Slaughter points out that attending networking events not only saves us money but actually enhances memory and leaves our colleagues with a lasting impression that even social media cannot reach.
Networking is the most cost-effective marketing tool you have, because it’s based on the perception others have of you and your work. And although it costs very little to do, the results are priceless. Your reputation reflects on your organization, and vice versa. People are talking about you when you are not there.
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Psychologists have studied the way we interact in person, and unsurprisingly, it turns out we have a much stronger memory for faces than we do for names, professions or other factoids. Shake hands with someone today, and chances are good they will seem eerily familiar if you spot them at a shopping mall months or even years later. Almost all of us feel that we easily forget names but quickly recognize faces. You may not remember who they are or what was said, but you’re likely to know for the rest of your life that you’ve seen that face before. Leverage that science in your favor.
Our society’s desire for the latest and greatest in information creates standards in business that, for many, perpetuates the idea that staying connected in business means constantly being plugged in. In all hopes, we as a society can take a step back and recognize just how important it is to take time out from our screens in exchange for a cup of coffee, a good conversation and a friendly handshake. So, here is our challenge: strategically attend an upcoming event. Whether immediate or in the future, we guarantee you’ll reap the benefits of your networking adventure.