Saturday, July 21, 2012

Social media oils the wheels, Face-to-face seals the deals

There's a lot said about online versus offline networking. Some prefer one over the other, and some, like me, see the benefits of both approaches. It's my observation, however, that getting face-to-face with someone, shaking their hand and looking into their eyes tells you far more about them than a Tweet or a Facebook message can ever do.

We all know that trust is the key to successful relationships, both in and out of business. Building trust online is time-consuming and fragile, but then so is building an offline relationship. What seems important is regular contact, constantly demonstrating that you are not only trustworthy but also loyal.

I often find that business relationships  that lead to paid work happen in one of two ways:

1) Starting with a real-world meeting, followed up by an email, and then kept going by regular social networking messages. A few more meetings follow, before a deal is agreed with a handshake.

2) Starting with an online connection, followed up over a matter of months with social networking messages, before a meeting or two, leading to the handshake on the deal.

Of course, some people conduct all their business online, and never meet their customers at all. That works for commodity-based businesses, but is much more tricky for professional services.  Skype is also of great value in relationship building, particularly with video. It bridges the gap between online and offline, and is almost (but not quite) as good as face-to-face.

So for me, and maybe for you too, social media oils the wheels, and face-to-face seals the deals.

7 comments:

Andreas Wiedow said...

Lovely blog. How's your ratio between Online activities vs. Offline activities, Alan ?

Richard Townsend said...

It is still the truth that the first sale you have to make is yourself. Social media can help with that however I agree there is nothing like a face to face meeting or as we used to say getting "belly to belly". I sold financial packages for many years and building trust was essential... very hard to do through a social media interaction. ric-orglearn

Alan Stevens said...

Andreas,

Thank you. I'd say it's around 50/50 for online v offline, and added together them around 20% of my totla work time.

Margaret Adams said...

It's often difficult to get the balance between online and offline relationship building, business networking etc right.

This really helps.

Thank you, Alan.

Seo 4 All said...

Good blog Alan - true words.

Jeremy Dent said...

Not just Skype: Google+ Hangouts?

Erik van Erne said...

Great blog, thanks for sharing