Networking: Online vs. In-Person

By: Susan Finco, President, Leonard & Finco Public Relations

During the past month, I’ve been interviewed by business media, as well as given a presentation at a leadership conference, about online networking.  Everyone wants to know the secret to successful online networking.
When I make the point that online networking is really no different from in-person networking I will inevitably get perplexed looks or comments along the line of:  “But they’re so different. I don’t understand how they’re the same.”  The point is, despite the fact that they take place in very different environments, they really are the same. It’s all about relationship building.
You would never hand your business card to someone at an event and then just walk away. The same is true for networking on social media.  Your LinkedIn request, if all you do is go with the standard, “I’d like to connect with you on LinkedIn,” is no more likely to lead to a discussion or a relationship than handing over your business card and walking away.
Before you ask to connect, do a little research about the person. Do you know someone in common, are they involved in the type of work you want to know about, or did they go to the same college or university you attended?  Asking about someone’s area of expertise is always a good door-opener.  See what groups they belong to on social media and become a part of a group that might further your knowledge or connections. It provides even more reasons to have a conversation.
And like many things in life, networking is not about quantity, it’s about quality. To build a quality network, build high quality relationships. That’s the kind of network that will be valuable to you and to those you’re connected with.