In a digital-crazy world, it’s important to get back to our core, to remember that in-person networking is extraordinarily powerful, perhaps even more powerful than digital networking.
So how do we set ourselves up for success when it comes to building offline connections? How do we take our digital connections and turn them into quality offline relationships?
Here are my three tips for building valuable offline relationships:
1. Leverage social media as an icebreaker. Networks such as as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook are great ways to send a quick message to someone letting them know you would like to connect online and offline. If you are located in close proximity, send them a message to set up a coffee date.
As the co-founder and CEO of The Global Good Fund, an organization that supports leadership development for young social entrepreneurs, I used Twitter to connect with the U.S. Ambassador to Armenia, a person who was also passionate about social entrepreneurship. We set up a meeting to see if there was an opportunity to collaborate. He is now hosting a Global Good Fund event at his home in November and providing long-term value to our organization.
2. Become a personal hub. The ability to showcase your personality and your passion is best delivered in person.
When you’re passionate about something, your voice changes, your body gestures become animated and others become interested. This nonverbal communication is difficult to convey online. So become a connector and get personal. Host a public networking event for people within your industry or a small informal dinner gathering at your home.
Our organization hosts monthly gatherings called “Salons.” We have dinner with a small group of guests engage in meaningful discussion about how to live a life of purpose. These events allow us to connect on a deeper level with our community and create passionate fans, instead of just digital followers.
Aside from engaging in enriching discussions, event organizers often become seen as influencers — a social-media concept played out in real life.
3. Speak up and stand out. Forget about the vanity metrics of how many Twitter followers you have. Instead, focus on making a lasting impression in the flesh.
Seek out speaking opportunities at events relevant to your work. Volunteer to serve on panels or be a judge on a panel. Connect with people who you want to be affiliated with and mingle in the same circles. Having a key role at these types of events will establish you as a thought leader and will allow you to connect instantly with strategic contacts.
Also, consider attending events outside of your particular industry. You’ll not only learn valuable insights to connect back to your work, but you’ll stand out from the crowd.
When it comes down to it, the best way to accelerate your success is to put aside your smartphone, make eye contact, engage in conversation and forge a lasting impression that may in turn help your bottom line.