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It’s an interesting question.
Much is made at the moment of social media exposure and building “networks” via Linked In and similar platforms. In the rush to ensure one has the highest profile and number of contacts we seem to have lost sight of the fact that for many years our networks comprised purely personal contacts.
LinkedIn was originally an effective business networking platform that encouraged users to only connect to people they personally knew in order to retain their own (and the site’s integrity). In a relatively short space of time the focus of LinkedIn has changed entirely. It is now a job board and the “go to” site for recruiters seeking to identify candidates. Whereas it was originally desirable to maintain a realistic network of known contacts it is now a positive asset to build one’s network with strategic connections that we don’t know but who may be able to help us find a new job. The main problem with this – for both candidates and recruiters – is that everyone else is doing the same thing.
Facebook does not only have 1bn viewers, but also the broadest demographic and most active of all the social networks. Facebook “friends” may be school friends, work colleagues, family members or even virtual friends who we will never meet but share a common interest, be it Justin Bieber, Funny Cats or Formula 1. Apart from the occasional “shout out” is it appropriate to ask these people more personal information about themselves directly?
We decided to try to travel back in time and do some proper old fashioned networking this week. We’ve done some drinks with clients, coffee with candidates and even met up with people not in our industry. This last proved to be much more effective than anything else. A trip to the theatre with friends resulted in an introduction to a new client, conversations with neighbours led to several Candidate introductions and a chance meeting in the gym post-yoga class resulted in an introduction to a likely new supplier. The lesson learned? It’s true that nothing beats the personal touch.
Every sales training course we’ve been on lately has focussed on the importance of exploiting social media. They have also without exception said that the best method of contact is a personal phone call or meeting; putting a face and/or voice to a profile does make all the difference. And you never know, it may be that your Formula 1 Facebook group might be just the place to find the right people to help build your business or career.