there’s no question that social media has changed the way we all communicate. Be it Twitter or Facebook; Yammer or Reddit; LinkedIn or Pinterest. We are all using these tools on a daily basis to share information, learn something new, have a laugh, and most importantly, connect with others. As we use social media to build our personal brands online, we often forget how important it can be to do so offline.
Last week, I attended the Society for Human Resource Management’s Annual Conference in Atlanta, GA. I’ve been attending these conferences for five years, and over the last three – social media has made these conferences even more enriching. How so? Well, I use Twitter and LinkedIn as an HR professional. Over time, I’ve virtually connected with other people in the field – whether practitioners, thought leaders, or academics – and when I arrived at the conference, I already had a network of people to interact with. But meeting these people in person, having a drink together and sharing an idea and a laugh, has helped solidify these relationships. Now these people know me a lot better. They’ve shaken my hand, seen the sincerity in my eyes. Meeting in person takes your relationship to a different level. Besides that – I was introduced to tons of people and made lots of new connections as well. I’ve added over 60 new followers to Twitter in the four days of the conference.
Sure online networking is easier; it’s less time consuming and you can do it any time – but the value added by connecting to people offline cannot be surpassed. When it really comes time to draw upon your network – people will be more comfortable working with or recommending you if they’ve met you offline.