Social Networking – Taking Business Offline
by Robert Bancroft
This morning my alarm went off 30 minutes early. As I do every morning, I turned to my phone, updating myself on what the markets on the east coast have done while I was sleeping and scanning my favorite news apps.
Coffee. Email. Tooth brush. Instagram. Briefcase. Facebook.
I wake up connected, and before I’m out the door I’ve participated in six or more streams of media and social networking. Every real-world action has a digital corollary. It’s the hallmark of my generation and something that I’m generally unapologetic about, but lately I’ve been learning a whole other form of social network.
Instead of arriving at my desk and diving into a mountain of emails and paperwork, I arrive at a restaurant and order breakfast. I shake hands and chat about the week’s triumphs and challenges. I follow up on a lead, I discuss a potential collaboration, and I confirm a coffee meeting for later in the week.
I’m part of a real-world renaissance of good old-fashioned networking. It’s about forging real relationships out of shared experiences in the early part of the morning, when traffic is light and parking is free and most of my peers are still in the groggy part of waking up.
The networking meeting was never really dead, but it sure hasn’t been talked about much lately. As digital natives, we’ve grown up in a connected world that began with these real-world relationships and became a way to enhance and streamline an increasingly noisy electronic world. However, in the process of staying up-to- date and engaged in social media trends, it sometimes feels like we’ve lost our grip on the stuff that underpins the whole thing.
The ability to genuinely and authentically represent ourselves and our businesses to real people enhances our ability to do the same through digital media. Practicing the art of real-world networking is rising again as a means of staying focused and tethered to reality in the digital age. In the same way that receiving a hand-written note in the mail has become a novel and memorable surprise, interacting with my peers in business over breakfast feels exciting and refreshingly kinetic.