Meeting people in real life, face-to-face is important for building professional relationships, but I'd be willing to bet that most of us -- whether introverted or extroverted -- do not enjoy the awkward interactions that are common when meeting strangers face-to-face for the first time.
Networking events can feel like high school dances. Some packs of people who know each other stick together in cliques, never truly reaching out of their comfort zone. Others sit on the sidelines like wallflowers, waiting to go home to their pajamas and The Tonight Show. A scarce few may end up networking with someone they end up having a fruitful business relationship with, but most of us are lucky to leave with a few pleasant exchanges and business cards.
Networking online, however, provides a much greater chance of success. It allows for a more thoughtful approach.
Here are 10 Reasons Online Networking is Better Than In-Person Networking, followed by steps to begin networking online like a champ.
10. Unlike networking events, networking online does not require suffering through a glass of bad chardonnay and a rubber chicken dinner.
9. Networking online has the potential to reach almost anyone in the world. It's not just limited to whoever is in the room.
8. You can be strategic and prepare before networking with someone online, as opposed to flying by the seat of your pants with whoever happens to be at a networking event.
7. Online, you don't have to worry about someone dismissively walking away from you after sizing you up.
6. There's no need to spend money or time away from family to travel to a conference in order to network online.
5. Who wouldn't want to avoid making that awkward glance to attempt to make out someone's name tag to figure out if he just introduced himself as "Ned," "Ed," or "Ted"?
4. No awkward handshakes.
3. Online networking doesn't require having to remember to stuff your pockets with extra business cards.
2. One word: pajamas!
1. After connecting with someone online, the ice is broken, and an offer to meet face-to-face for lunch or at the next industry event is usually welcome, since the two parties have established, in advance of meeting each other in person, that there is potential for a mutually beneficial, professional connection.
Meeting face-to-face is an important element of a successful relationship if it is to be meaningful and mutually beneficial over the long-term, but meeting online to get the relationship started is typically far less awkward and more effective. Convinced that online networking is the way to go when you want to connect with people professionally? Check out my step-by-step All-Star Online Networking Tips to get started.