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Has Traditional Networking Been Replaced by Social Networking?

James Perrin

by James Perrin on 23rd March 2011

Whilst Social Media has created an efficient and cost effective way for businesses to network online, is there still a need for traditional face-to-face networking anymore?

After Twitter celebrated its fifth birthday recently, it got me thinking, just how influential and powerful is this social media platform? Moreover, with over 200 million users worldwide, are we starting to neglect traditional networking events in their favour?

To help explain my ponderings, I turn to some recent colleagues who attended what they described as an excellent seminar – the #linklove event hosted by Distilled. The value of such an event can be seen, not only in the SEO tactics they learned, but also the influence of the industry experts they met. Returning to Koozai HQ, Mike and Ollie have enriched their SEO knowledge and raised their profiles as a result. So, here’s my take on the value of both social media and traditional networking.

Cost

Social media is much cheaper than traditional networking events, a criticism often levelled at conferences as they tend to be very expensive. However there is a reason for this; with authoritative and well-versed keynote speakers (who often charge a high premium) offering valuable information from and a room full of industry experts, there’s a fantastic opportunity to learn as well push forward your own views and develop your reputation.

Time

Networking online is much more of a timesaver, especially considering you can instantly get your message en masse with just the click of a button – invaluable to anyone breaking important news. For example, see my post on how social media has changed the journalistic landscape. With traditional networking events, this is much more time consuming, often a full day out of the office. Therefore whilst you may be learning, you could also be abandoning the bread and butter of your business.

Trust
In terms of networking itself, it seems to me that trust plays a hugely important role. With social networking, building rapport and making connections with people is far easier and much more achievable with traditional networking events. However,the strength and value of these relationships is questionable at best. By attending conferences you have the opportunity to put a face to the avatar and develop genuine trust and develop this in person and then later online too.

Quality Vs Quantity

The reach of traditional networking is no competition for social media – a perfect to way to engage groups of people all over the world, and not just in a Hotel conference room. However when it comes to networking, whether it’s face-to-face or online, the quality of the lead is better than the quantity of the leads. This is where I make my case that traditional networking is difficult to beat. The consequence of traditional networking can have a direct influence on your Twitter followings or LinkedIn friends, inbound links and can even generate business. This builds authority and can only prove beneficial – assuming of course that you don’t just blend into the background at a conference.

Who’s the Winner?

At the risk of reaching a disappointing anti-climax, neither method is the clear winner, it is in fact us who are the winners – if we utilise both methods properly. Building a network of friends and colleagues within any industry is invaluable to any business whether it is done online or face-to-face.

The rise in social media doesn’t mean that traditional networking methods will be shelved. Likewise, traditionalist should not discount the magnitude of how much social media can help you and your business.
There are pros and cons, advantages and disadvantages for both. But used appropriately and managed well, you’re better off using both methods to your full advantage. This will raise your profile significantly and make sure you are seen, especially by the right people – something we all should understand the value of working in SEO.

On a final note, if anyone knows of any excellent SEO Copywriting conferences and seminars coming up, please leave a comment.

James Perrin

James Perrin

Content Marketing Manager, James Perrin is a regular contributor to the Koozai blog. Well experienced in sales and marketing, James also has a passion for journalism and media, especially new media. From the latest industry related new stories to copywriting advice, James will provide you with plenty of digital marketing information.

4 Comments

  • Mike Essex

    Mike 23rd March 2011

    I’ve got to admit I made better contacts after the show you mention, that any time during it. Becoming aware of people at the show, then tweeting them after was more successful than queuing up to have the same chat they had with other people on that day. In this case the social networks were far better as you suggest.

    Reply to this comment

  • James Perrin

    James 23rd March 2011

    Thanks Mike, attending these types of events in addition to social media networking has clearly been a massive advantage for you. By attending, you established who the key people were and that’s one reason why I would never rule out traditional networking. Whilst it isn’t for everyone, I still feel it’s a significant way to either find out who the key people are or to build a rapport and connect with the people in the know. Either way, its all positive stuff.

    Reply to this comment

  • Paul Gailey 25th March 2011

    sure you can make good contact after such an event because you’re likely to be on a similar wavelength to attendees so there is a common bond. Equally if your network online before an event with attendees, then you feel like have accelerated certain social etiquette when you meet IRL. For maximum networking these days, I don’t think you can do one without the other, that is to say, if you limit it to IRL alone or just online you’re always going to be a few social slices short of a loaf.

    Reply to this comment

  • James Perrin

    James 25th March 2011

    Thanks for your thoughts Paul, a combination of both methods is necessary, however there will always be people who rely on one or the other. As you say, maximum networking shouldn’t be limited to one or the other.

    Reply to this comment

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