Networking without the Web
I don’t get out much. And it’s not because I don’t want to (believe me, this small biz mama with four kids is always up for a break), it’s because I can always think of a million other things to do in the office or at home. And with my incessant need to tap into my social networks on an hourly basis, I’m not missing much, right?
Granted, the use of social media has made some parts of my job easier. However, there is nothing like some good ol’ face-to-face networking. And I’m not just talking from a generating-new-client-leads perspective. I’m talking more about the I’m-stuck-in-the-office-and-need-some-live-human-interaction perspective.
So this year I’ve made it my mission to really get out there and connect with smart, interesting people. To network without my laptop or phone and have some live face time.
Is networking hard? Sometimes. Is it beneficial? Always.
I am a people person, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy for me to walk into a room where I don’t know anyone. Networking is hard. But in my 10 years in the communications industry, I have gained so much from my surrounding community. Networking has always proved beneficial. I am not saying that it can’t be done online (plenty of success stories there, too) but there is something to be said for real live conversations. And even though I may not always have the right thing to wear or know the right thing to say, I put myself out there. And you know what? In 10 years, I haven’t once been disappointed.
Forget client leads (if that’s your only expectation and motivation, you should rethink your strategy). I’m telling you, I have learned more about hot spots to eat in the cities, tips for finding good daycare, and what new business ventures are happening in my industry than I ever set out to know from logging face time. Plus, I get to brush up on my conversation skills and step away from the screen. Just like in an online space, if you’re authentic and real, people will want to talk to you. Putting in face time keeps you in the moment. It’s now. And I guarantee you will always learn something new.
Networking is like no education you’ve ever experienced.
There are some wicked-smart people in my line of work (and well outside my scope, too). Being able to sit down and have meaningful conversations with those people is a great opportunity. To me, nothing is better than real conversation and hearing about what’s up in other people’s lives. This is the type of education that no book, tweet or article even comes close to in comparison.
So lose the screens. Challenge yourself to get out from behind your computer, your iPad or your phone and log in some real face time with the people around you. It’s refreshing.