I am a networking junkie. I love being in a room with people I don’t know, hoping to start interesting conversations, build relationships and maybe even get business referrals. But I have noticed that I don’t spend much time networking face-to-face anymore.
I am still meeting and talking to people and having conversations about business. I am just doing it online. I am not the only person experiencing this transition. It is just the state of business interactions in 2012. When I am challenged by others who don’t think you can’t build “real” relationships on line, I simply refer to one of my first jobs, as an inside sales associate.
In that job, I spent my days building relationships over the telephone. After a while, my regular clients became friends. I knew what they did over the weekend, what sports teams they followed, and what they were buying their wife for their anniversary (Sometimes I even suggested the gift).
Friendship growing out of a series of phone conversations seemed like the most natural thing in the world. When we met face-to-face, we simply continued the conversations which began over the telephone.
Today, those conversations are taking place in a different format, but the rules are the same:
- Focus on the other person – Make them feel special by retweeting and sharing their content.
- Listen more then you talk – Pay attention to what others are sharing, it will tell you a lot about their interests.
- Ask questions – Find out more. Open a discussion topic with a simple question and see where the conversation takes you.
- Share information on a range of topics. – Don’t be one note. As a person, you have a range of interests. By sharing a little about all the things you are interested in, you are more likely to find others with common interests.