Success isn’t just what you know; it’s also who you know. Networking has always been important, but in today’s world, it’s becoming essential. Whether you’re just starting your career or a seasoned professional, your ability to build and nurture relationships can make or break your career.
So, let’s dive into the world of networking — both online and in person. We’ll compare digital networking with face-to-face interactions, share the pros and cons of both, and offer insights into how Walk West can elevate your networking game in both worlds.
The Digital Revolution: Networking in the Virtual Realm
In this digital age, the online world has a colossal impact on networking. Digital networking is here to stay, and it’s crucial to grasp its advantages and disadvantages.
Global Reach: The internet knows no borders. With a few clicks, you can connect with diverse people from around the world, within or across industries. LinkedIn, with over 700 million users from 200 countries, is among the most trusted social media platforms and the equivalent of having a worldwide trade show at your fingertips.
Efficiency: Digital networking is quick and efficient. You can send emails, engage on social media, or attend webinars without the time and travel.
Data-Driven Insights: Digital platforms provide valuable data and analytics, allowing you to effectively target your efforts. 80% of LinkedIn members drive business decisions and nearly 180 million of its members hold senior-level positions.
Lack of Authenticity: The digital realm can feel impersonal. It’s talking to a screen instead of a real person, which can hinder the development of deep, meaningful relationships.
Information Overload: With so much online information, it’s easy to get lost in the noise. Building meaningful connections can be a challenge in the midst of digital chaos. In the past two years, one study showed that business acquaintances dropped 21% at companies that shifted to remote work arrangements and our professional and personal networks have shrunk by close to 16%.
Potential Miscommunication: Written communication lacks the nuance of face-to-face interactions. Misunderstandings can arise when tone and body language are absent.
Old-School Charm: Networking Face-to-Face
In-person networking, though it may seem old-fashioned, packs a powerful punch and should not be forgotten.
Authentic & Personal Connections: Meeting someone in person fosters authenticity and trust. It’s like a handshake sealing a deal, solid and memorable that helps establish a deeper connection than you would through an online interaction.
Non-Verbal Communication: In-person interactions allow you to read body language and facial expressions, enhancing communication and understanding.
Memorability: Face-to-face meetings are often more memorable because they engage multiple senses. It’s like watching a live concert versus listening to a recording.
Location Limits: In-person networking is restricted by location and availability, making it harder to connect with others outside of your current network. Depending solely on in-person networking can also limit your exposure to potential contacts and opportunities.
Time Consuming: Scheduling meetings, attending events, and traveling can be time-intensive.
It Can Feel Uncomfortable: After the last couple of years, a lot of people have a hard time socializing in new situations.
Why Networking is Crucial for Everyone
Networking isn’t just for extroverts or CEOs; it’s a vital tool for anyone looking to thrive in their professional journey. It helps you:
Unlock Opportunities: Networking opens doors to jobs, projects, and collaborations you might not find through traditional channels. It can also lead to unexpected friendships and mentorships.
Learn and Grow: Interacting with peers and experts exposes you to fresh ideas, trends, and insights, keeping you at the forefront of your field.
Build Trust: Trust is the cornerstone of business. Establishing strong connections with clients, partners, and colleagues fosters trust, which is invaluable in marketing and beyond.
Tips to Take Into Your Next Networking Event
As you gear up for your next networking event, whether a virtual meetup or an in-person gathering, here are some valuable tips and tricks to help you prepare and make more meaningful connections that can boost your career or business.
Optimize Your Online Profiles: Before diving into networking, take a look at your social media profiles, especially on platforms like LinkedIn. Make sure they are complete, professional, and up-to-date. A high-quality profile picture and a compelling headline can make a big difference.
Engage Actively: Don’t just be a passive observer online. Regularly share insightful content, comment on others’ posts, and participate in discussions that matter to your field. This not only demonstrates your expertise but also helps you connect with like-minded individuals and businesses. If you need assistance with social media management, consider Walk West – we can develop a strategy and handle all your social media needs, from content calendars to community management.
Follow Up Promptly: Respond promptly when you receive messages or connection requests. Building relationships online starts with timely and active communication.
Prepare Elevator Pitches: Craft concise and engaging introductions that clearly convey who you are and what you do. Be ready to adapt your pitch based on the individual you’re talking to and the context of the conversation.
Practice Active Listening: During in-person conversations, focus on listening. Ask open-ended questions to understand the other person’s needs and challenges better.
Visual Identity: Have professional-looking business cards or one-pagers ready to exchange. Ensure that these materials align with your brand’s image. If you haven’t given your marketing collateral a makeover lately, Walk West can easily refresh and enhance your materials to leave a more lasting impression.
Networking is the compass to steer you toward success in your career and business. Digital and in-person networking each bring their own strengths, but when you merge them, they form a powerful alliance. Collaborating with a marketing agency lets you tap into this dynamic duo, embarking on a growth journey that distinguishes you from the crowd and leaves a lasting impact.
Let’s Discuss Your Plans
Interested in learning how Walk West can help you stand out from the crowd at your next networking event? Reach out today to start a conversation.