With all the focus on social media, you have to remember which of those words is most important – social.
The excitement of connecting over a good conversation is addictive for we business owner and sales types, as it should be! And while technology provides some good alternatives, there is no substitute for the great experience of time spent face-to-face.
Levels of conversational intimacy
As you move from e-mails, to a phone call, to a video call, to a face-to-face meeting, the level of conversational intimacy increases. While each has its place, the in-person conversations and the moments shared change the dynamic of the relationship. After spending time together, you now have common experiences to remember and reference. It moves the relationship to a more intimate level.*
When you’re together, you also get to experience the physical person by making eye contact and seeing one another’s mannerisms and personal style. You find out quickly who’s a hugger, who’s a handshaker, who’s a two-cheek kisser. It completely changes the dynamic!
Social tools strengthen relationships
Think about social media as both a communication and a relationship management tool. It’s another way to develop and maintain relationships, and it allows you to carry that connection forward on a daily basis. With social tools, we don’t have to wait for the next in-person event to rekindle that connection. We can work on it every day.
Our online presence, or absence, is the new first impression that people have of us and it can speak volumes. This online presence that we project has the potential to give us such an advantage in finding new connections and developing relationships. It then allows us to use those same social tools to maintain the relationships moving forward.
And then, when you get to meet someone in person for the first time, it’s always a thrill to see them, to instantly recognize one another and make a connection because you already “know” one another.
Instead of walking through the halls of a conference feeling like it’s filled with strangers, you will recognize faces, which lead to conversations.
And think about the different type of first meeting you can have if your prospects already know you from your online activity. Instead of cold introductions and awkward getting-to-know-one-another conversations, you can jump right into a known topic.
What a huge advantage that becomes to moving the business conversations along to a more substantive discussion. Instead of proving yourself and trying to break through the I-don’t-know-you-and-trust-you barrier, you can be talking about specific ideas that resonated from online discussions.
Personal connections strengthen business performance
Social interactions aren’t just about making new connections, but can also be excellent sources for sharing solutions, ideas, and accountability. There are many places where people connect in online groups to chat with peers from LinkedIn Groups to private networks (for example, Q4i has a discussion group for members). Sometimes this is where relationships are formed, but also where they are strengthened by participation.
And then, when you take those online discussion groups and move them to in-person conversations, it takes on a different level of enthusiasm and collaboration. It takes our potentially challenging situations and makes them feel completely achievable because we know we’ve got partners to help us along the way, knowing there is someone we can easily call for new ideas or to help hold us accountable to the ones we’ve already committed to doing.
As diverse and spread out as our work world has become with more and more people working remotely and the recognition and acceptance that a client, co-worker, or partner doesn’t have to be within driving distance, air travel is up significantly. The number of air passengers worldwide has more than doubled during the growth of the internet with nearly 4 billion passengers making the effort to get on planes for face-to-face interactions.
Even with the technology available, the human connection is still a significantly critical business tool. Social media, when used properly, doesn’t replace the traditional relationship, but instead it works to enhance it and speed the development of the relationship and create more opportunities to meet in person.
Taking a more active role in your online presence and making yourself more available and visible on a daily basis to both your industry connections as well as with clients, will open opportunities you may not be able to imagine at this point. I have no doubt that if you do embrace the social presence, by the time the next face-to-face opportunity comes around, you’ll have even more to talk about and connect over, and you’ll immediately jump right into the good stuff rather than starting with the formalities.
Give yourself an advantage and build a strong, active, educational, helpful presence online and you’ll reap the benefits for a long time to come.
*All of this is written with the expectation that you’re a helpful, interested participant and that you’re not being an ass online, instigating fights, picking on people, and using it as a platform to bully others and say things behind a computer that you wouldn’t say in person. #GoldenRule
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