Everyone agrees that networking is super important for growing your business, developing partnerships, and discovering new opportunities. In this age of digital obsession, networking is made easier by our collection of social platforms and channels.
Your network --
Colleagues, former classmates, mentors, teachers, role models, influencers, community connections, friends, relatives, your Aunt Wilma’s hairdresser, the kickball league, folks you ate dinner with on that cruise, and so on...
You connect by --
Sending introductory emails, requesting LinkedIn connects, and brand building through Facebook and Twitter follows.
If you are like me, online leads are pretty good most of the time. And I don't have to leave the comfort of my own home or desk. Right? But in hiding behind our eternally smiling avatars, maybe we are missing out on something better.
In our dynamic, digital world, using online platforms and tactics to build relationships and networks is a branding no-brainer. But this post isn’t about that.
This is about going deeper.
In last week’s blog, KJMdigital’s CEO and founder Kara Maddox looked at the importance of making your data, content, optimization, and strategy all work together as part of an unstoppable Super-Branding team.
In case you missed it, check it out HERE and discover some killer brand build insights.
This week we’ll zoom in on the optimization piece and get personal about YOUR NETWORK. It’s time to take it to the next level.
The Value of Face-to-Face Networking
“After working in a digital environment for almost a decade, I have learned the value of making face-to-face connections with people. It started with calls and video sessions, but actually meeting someone in person has taken my working relationships to the next level. It allows people to connect in a way that is simply impossible from a distance.”
Guest writer, Entrepreneur.com
For most of us, this isn’t breaking news. We know that meeting someone in person creates a stronger connection than commenting on posts, writing PMs, or emailing. So why are we dragging our feet about it?
Here’s a few ways we talk ourselves out of making face-to-face connections:
I’m too busy. Seriously, I need to write at least two more blog posts and fill out three job applications and walk the dog. There is not enough time in the day for me to chat over coffee. 😓
I hate small talk. What if it’s awkward, or worse, boring?
We have nothing in common. I can’t fathom what I could possibly learn from this person.
It’s just one person. Instead, I’ll email blast my entire network because…efficiency.
The Kinetic Energy of Face-to-Face
On a recent Monday morning, Kara Maddox and I met for the first time in a park in Washington D.C.
We were classmates together in the Johns Hopkins University M.A. in Communication program, then we were colleagues and branding strategy collaborators. We were already friends but this was our first in-person meeting. It was exciting to finally share the same space after so many successful video and digital interactions.
Kara and I chatted for a bit, then walked over to the brand-new offices of TrackMaven to meet with Allen Gannett, founder and CEO of this incredibly successful marketing analytics platform company. Allen is a creativity guru, a LinkedIn celebrity, and a prolific influencer and connector recognized by Forbes as one of 2016’s 30 Under 30 for Marketing and Advertising.
To say that I’m a fangirl is an extreme understatement.
Kara and I had coffees and Allen sipped a sparkling water (he hardly needs the energy of caffeine). We easily chatted about dogs and karate and travel. And then we talked about finding a niche, unleashing creativity, and the state of the digital marketing industry. At the end of a stimulating 50-minute conversation, Allen’s creative energy and seriously astute understanding of the digital marketing world left us feeling motivated, invigorated and teeming with ideas. For Kara and me, this face-to-face connection was priceless.
---PAUSE FOR A COMMERCIAL BREAK---
I just have to take a second here to personally shout out to Allen Gannett and say thank you so much for sharing your valuable time and kinetic momentum with us!
Good news, readers.
Allen is not stingy with his insights and inspiration. He is sharing the secrets to his creative success with EVERYONE in his new book, The Creative Curve: How to Develop the Right Idea, at the Right Time
The book is officially released on Tuesday, June 12 (though I’ve had my copy pre-ordered for 3 months 😃).
HERE is a little taste of the creative gold in store for you when you get your copy.
I cannot wait to read it.
Influencers Support Going Offline
There are a plethora of great posts, articles, branding blogs, and tools that provide solid arguments for why you need to level up your network by going offline.
Adam Braatz, author of The Post-Military Professional, emphasizes that a strong network is your “bread and butter” for hunting jobs, seeking career changes, learning a new city or industry, working in sales or marketing, or just looking to expand your reach. He describes how he organically grows his network by meeting with A LOT of people, averaging ten meetings a week.
He shares insights in this VLOG on high volume networking, including these “rules of thumb” that challenge whatever excuse may be preventing you from getting up close and personal:
Meet anyone & everyone—you never know where it may lead
Never avoid scheduling just because you don’t see personal gain
The first meeting should have NO agenda other than spending time getting to know one another and perhaps seeking advice
Think long-term—plant the seeds that will grow your network later 🌳
Koy McDermott is a rising LinkedIn influencer focused on bridging communication gaps. In this post, he reminds us to remember this invaluable equation:
Relationships + Investment = Resources
Here's a few tips from Koy on how technology may help you move things online...offline:
Posts and updates from individuals on social media and online channels are just a small piece of what's really happening in their lives.
Remind yourself that making personal connections is an unlimited resource!
Remember that strengthening relationships offline will only help your digital network and will strengthen and support your community.
Set up weekly calendar notifications to remind you to reach out someone or strike up a conversation in person.
Follow Koy on LinkedIn for tips on leading and connecting with Millennials.
LinkedIn thrives on keeping people digitally connected, and yet the platform also acknowledge the value of face-to-face networking. Find out how to attend a LinkedIn local event and get up close and personal with others looking for connections here: LinkedIn Locally
Let’s just agree to throw the excuses out the window and here's why--
☞ One phenomenal moment of connection pays for your time and small talk and parking fees.
☞ One meeting may launch a new strategy, fuel a needed pivot, or add an influencer to your network.
☞ You will always be busy. Building relationships up close and personal holds unknown potential and is absolutely an investment in your future.
You all have stories of amazing face-to-face interactions that helped to build your brand. Please share your perspective in the comments below as we motivate each other to get out there and go deeper with our connections.
And should you ever find yourself near San Antonio, TX, let’s get coffee and chat!
Sherry Wynn is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University where she received her Master of Arts degree in Communications. She recently retired from the United States Air Force and is a regular contributor to the Digital Millennial. Visit her on LinkedIn to connect!
Need help reaching your audience? The KJMdigital mission is to help connect artists to businesses through our online landscape. And the KJM Team works because our mission and values align with what we value - radical transparency, autonomy and flexibility. At KJMdigital, we put people first because we know real relationships are what matter most.
Interested in learning more? Get our weekly post sent straight to your inbox by reaching out! We are always here to help!