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Why Face-to-Face Networking Works Best

By: Bonnie Coffey

 

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Because of my passion for networking—doing it, talking about it, teaching it, coaching it—I have lots of opportunities to chat with various people about how they view this important professional skill and how they go about growing their networks. One of the things I’ve discovered is that a lot of folks—particularly those under forty—think they’re “networking” when they sign on to Facebook or Linkedin. Certainly, these online avenues are important components of a successful networking effort that deserve some attention and cultivation, but most people avoid like the plague what I call “F2F” networking—those connections that are made “Face-to-Face.” Focusing solely on your keyboard leaves out a very critical connection with people who can be spectacular resources for you.

 
The truth is, you can’t progress very far in, say, finding potential clients/customers, a job search, landing a business deal or making important business connections through an internet platform. I don’t care how great your profile and picture are, the absolute key in making networking actually work is that face-to-face—F2F—work. The people with whom you interact with online have no way to effectively gauge your voice inflection, your body language, your facial expressions. They don’t have opportunities to actually experience those critical components of conversation, to see them first-hand.
 
Additionally, a computer screen simply doesn’t allow the chance to demonstrate two crucial cornerstones of trust—Character and Competence. You may get an introduction and have a pretty good online discussion, but at some point, to create a relationship that is meaningful, you’re simply going to have to meet someone face-to-face, and that’s the connection that really counts. Every opportunity to display that Character and Competence takes your interaction to the next level, one that eventually leads to your goal, whether that be a new customer, a referral or a job.
 
That F2F encounter is precisely what most people have such great angst about! It causes them to linger reluctantly and hesitantly on the edges of those few networking events they do attend, sweaty glass of diluted punch in their hands, unsure and uncomfortable about how to approach an individual, much less a group of people. They’ve read dozens of books on what they should be doing, but none of those gave them the actual tools, the “how to” skills and strategies to accomplish the “shoulds.”
 
And so, they remain on the fringes, when they could be enjoying themselves, smiling and making important connections with people who could help them advance professionally and personally, sharing opportunities to demonstrate their Character and Competence that impel people to want to know them better, to do business with them. Those tools are what set Contacts Count apart from other networking programs. You get hands-on skills that, with practice, turn those fringes into fabulous opportunities. In upcoming articles, we’ll explore some of those skills and strategies that will provide you with the confidence and competence to create meaningful conversations, connections and collaborations!
 
Are you afraid of face-to-face networking? What have you tried to overcome this obstacle?
Published: August 22, 2013
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Bonnie Coffey

Bonnie Coffey is a business and community leader and, as a Certified Trainer and Associate with Contacts Count, LLC, she teaches the skills and strategies of face-to-face (F2F) networking for professional and personal success. Her far-reaching career has impacted business, political, financial, and leadership organizations throughout the country. Her client list includes AARP® Foundation, Heinz Family Philanthropies, U.S. Department of Labor–Women’s Bureau, University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, American Chemical Society, Decorating Den, American Business Women’s Association (ABWA), McCombs School of Business/University of Texas at Austin, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and Union Pacific. She’s been featured in Kiplinger’s Personal Finance Magazine, Creative Training Techniques, Women in Business and has been a columnist with the Lincoln Journal Star since 2001.  Her book, “Dreams for Our Daughters,” embodies her belief in the future of our next generation of women leaders.

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