I’m continuously amazed that networking is so much much more gratifying and fruitful when I take the time to meet with people face to face.
I recently had lunch with a networking contact named Connie. It had been four years since we sat down face to face. Over that period, we have stayed in touch through electronic means, so our connection remained alive. I was energized to sit down with her and share a meal (Thai food – yummy). Over the lunch hour, we picked each others brains, exchanged books, shared ideas and figured out how we could help each other.
I left the restaurant feeling inspired and energized. I was so happy that I took the time and effort to meet her face to face. We accomplished much more in sixty minutes together than we could have by using email and social media. We are now connected at a much deeper level. We’ve accelerated our relationship.
The convenience trade off
It is so tempting to do all of our networking right from the comfort and convenience of our computer or mobile device. With social media at our finger tips, there is practically no reason to meet with anyone face to face anymore. We can communicate, connect with and influence far more people in much less time using online networking tools and social media: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Skype, email, texting, and cell phone. We can connect virtually any time, anywhere with anyone! Low touch networking is not only convenient, but also it has great utility.
Who needs to get dressed up and go anywhere? The answer is you do.
The dynamics of human connection
There is something crucial about the act of touch, connection and bonding between people. It’s a core part of the relationship process.
Research studies show that children who do not receive an adequate amount of caring, physical touch and holding in their early years fail to thrive and end up facing emotional problems later in life, such as attachment disorder.
Perhaps the same kind of emotional withdrawal happens to adults? Are we really connected or just wired together?
Building trust by spending time together
Copywriter and blogger Lynda Goldman suggested that there is a primal link between personal connection and trust:
“In the age of Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and e-mail, we are all constantly connected. So why do we still travel halfway across the country or the world to meet people? It’s because the personal connection is still so much more powerful than a text message or even a voice on a webinar. We need to see, hear, touch (and even smell), the people we do business with. It’s a little like animals, who sniff each other out when they meet to see if they can trust each other.”
– Lynda Goldman, excerpt from her article Do’s and Don’ts of High Touch Networking in a High-Tech World, published on her blog, September 15, 2011.
What’s the right mix of high touch and low touch networking?
I recently wrote an article that was posted on the Southworth Paper Company blog. I gave my definition as to what constitutes low touch and high touch networking. I also gave my professional opinion about which is better: high touch or low touch networking. My answer may surprise you.
- You can find the article at: http://www.southworth.com/2012/networking/high-touch-touch-networking/
By the way, I have written twelve articles on the topic of business networking for the Southworth Paper Company – the fine folks who make premium resume paper and fine stationery for business and personal communication for discriminating consumers. My relationship with the company was born out of networking connections with a few of their leaders. Click here to access an archive of all 12 articles on networking.
Your Networking GOAL for this week
I want you to experience the richness of high touch networking this week. That means you need to put down your technology for a moment and make the commitment to spend quality face-to-face time with someone in your network.
It starts with scheduling a lunch, dinner or breakfast with someone in your network. There’s magic in breaking bread with people. Who should you dine with? Think about the professional relationships that you have allowed to become distant these past few years.
Take action. Reach out to at least one person and invite him/her to have lunch with you. To make scheduling easier, suggest 2-3 dates/times and a location where you could meet. Ask them to confirm what works best for them. Once it is on your calendar, protect it. Don’t allow work load or meetings to interfere with your relationship building commitment. Remember, you are managing your sphere of influence. It’s an investment that will add immediate value and energy to your professional life. It can also create more potential opportunities for your future.