Social Networking vs. Face-to-face: How many clicks make a coffee?

by Sarah Wooltorton
August 22, 2011

We asked our online community, Get Booked Out, to comment on the huge shift towards Social Networking, and what this means for business.

Is it as simple as “real networking happens face-to-face and Social Networking provides the leverage”?

Online provides the leverage between in-person meetings

“Meeting in person is of course still important. I think online provides the leverage to do the little bits in-between your in-person meets. For instance if you meet someone at a function, you add them to your LinkedIn connections so you can stay in touch. Or maybe you get to know someone in an online group and you strategically propose a coffee with them if you have enough reason…it is a completely new world, and we’re all itching to find out how to do it right!”  - Craig Bulmer

The global shift towards online communities has certainly led to confusion about the role of meeting people, prompting us to ask about where face-to-face networking fits in with the online world.

However, with all of us so busy, the question is whether we can afford the time to meet all of our potential clients face-to-face.

“Nothing replaces the f2f handshake, look someone, in the eye and meet. So where possible a meeting is good. With our busy world that is not always possible or practical”. – Steve Brossman

Face-to-Face is for the firm prospects, Social Networking does the rest

“Face to Face networking, which of course can be very pleasant, takes a lot of time and effort and I believe should be reserved for very firm prospects. The nurturing can easily be done via social media.” – Liz Drury

We’re now moving into a stage where face-to-face meetings are seen to hold the most value with a potential client, so it’s increasingly important to make sure that you are meeting with the right people! Social Media and Social Networking are great tools for qualifiying prospects, as Troy Shiels points out:

“F2F is the highest value and highest cost interaction and will therefore come to be reserved for the most valuable prospects, and all existing clients…Social networking provides not just leverage but also screening, as well as another qualifying phase in the moves management sequence.”

Real business happens in person, but social networking provides the leverage.

In today’s busy world, time is your most valuable possession so in-person contact should be reserved for ‘firm’ prospects.

Perhaps, as Russell Lewis puts it, “it’s all about a balance between online and F2F networking, each supporting the other.”

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