I’m a huge fan of social networking and platforms such as LinkedIn to make new business connections and garner new clients. The internet has shortened my sales cycles, opened me up to opportunities I once would never had – but what about old school connecting? Has face to face – “Hey, let’s meet for a coffee” – strategy gone by the way side?
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In my world, that’s an absolute no. The real magic happens for me when I can get in a physical room with someone. Sure, I’ve closed deals with people I’ve never met face to face. I’ve used Zoom and Skype and the good ole phone, but there’s nothing like sitting across the table from someone and having a conversation. When you can be in the physical presence of another, you learn more, you absorb more.
I also believe that mass networking events such as Chambers of Commerce and other peer group association events warrant attention. To be honest, I’ve scaled back on these over the years but I launched my business based on a lot of those relationships from my local Chamber of Commerce. In fact, I kind of miss being in the “know” of what’s happening, so I just signed up for a few after-hours events.
The answer isn’t either or, but a combination thereof. Yes, make sure you have an online brand that tells your story, but don’t discount the local face to face opportunities. People that already know of you and perhaps even know what you do and what you offer. Being in the right place at the right time is always priceless. I can’t tell you how many clients I’ve gotten over the years just because I was at an event sipping a glass of wine with someone talking about “life” when they said – “You know, you and I really should talk – give me a call tomorrow and let’s set something up.”
The best clients are often the ones you aren’t searching for, but the ones that serendipitously appear before you at that “right time”.
If you are in startup mode, especially in a service based industry, I strongly advise you to join some type of local networking group. Get your name out there, get comfortable with your story, meet some master networkers who will spread your proverbial love around. Don’t forget – it’s all about who you know. Why not give the good ‘ole networking thing a try again – add it to your online repertoire!