Face-to-face over Facebook

There’s been some discussion in the media recently about how much time Australians spend on social networking sites. And that’s not just Gen Y and Gen X. One source estimated it at as much as one working day per week, with Facebook the most popular followed by LinkedIn and Instagram.

It’s also estimated that four out of five professionals in Australia are active on LinkedIn.

There’s no denying the power of social networking. And yet, call me old-fashioned, but I still believe the best way to build deep and lasting business relationships is face-to-face. Not to be confused with Facetime.

In fact I’d go so far as to say that these days, there’s an over-reliance on ‘virtual’ networking in general. Perhaps it’s symptomatic of the fast-paced world we live in, and our growing expectations of instant gratification.

I hope we’re not losing the art of culturing a business relationship for the long-term. And I hope we’re not losing the patience to engage with people even though we might not make a dollar on it straight away.

I’m the first to admit that business relationships didn’t come easily to me in the early days of my career. Over time, I’ve learnt some good lessons:

The importance of personalising a business relationship, as opposed to having a personal relationship

The value of swapping business cards – while it seems like a fairly obvious thing to do, the trick is to maintain that early connection by following up later. To me, it’s an open invitation to re-connect – and not just when you’re looking to drum up new business. Why not just grab a coffee and get to know them better? You might see an opportunity you hadn’t even considered before.

It’s a marathon, not a sprint. That lesson has become clearer over the years, when I look around and see who’s still in business – and who’s not. It’s not necessarily who you might’ve expected when you first met.

Social networking is here to stay, and it’s an important part of doing business in today’s world. But don’t underestimate the power of face-to-face contact to take your relationships to the next level – and keep them there.

Feature Image:Copyright: djoronimo / 123RF Stock Photo

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