I had a conversation with someone who asked me if I thought the relationships they’re building on social media are as strong as the ones they build face to face. Interesting question. Let’s look at the pros and cons of each type of relationship.
Business relationships on social media
Business relationships on social media are great – you can connect with people you would never have met otherwise, and it’s quick and easy to have someone introduce you to someone else, or for you to make an introduction. As someone always looking to meet people, I like to take advantage of the “stalking” option social media offers that allows me to do my research before meeting someone face to face so I can get a feel for what’s important to that person and how I should approach them. If you want to use an old-fashioned dating analogy, social media is kind of like group or couples dating – it’s a safe way to learn a little about the other person.
I don’t think the relationships you build online will be sustained over the long haul via just social media, however, for several reasons. Partly because it’s easy to misunderstand the intent of what’s being said; sometimes it’s even difficult to determine context online. It’s also very easy to “half ass” the relationship by not giving it your full attention. Even if you don’t do it on purpose, it’s easy to slip into the habit of reading your emails, chatting with your coworkers, etc. while also interacting on social media.
Face-to-face business relationships
Nothing beats meeting with someone personally. If you’re truly intentional with your face-to-face relationships, you turn off your phone, sit back, and listen to the other person. You ask probing questions and wait for them to work out the long, involved, and deeply thought out answers. You can learn from their body language, their facial expressions, their verbal habits. I also feel like the relationships I build with people I meet face to face are more personal, more real. We spend time getting to know one another, asking about family, hobbies, goals, etc. To use a dating analogy again, here’s where you’re on your first date alone together. It’s where the intimacy starts.
People like to do business first with people, because they trust people more than they trust businesses, and second, with people they feel like they know, who know them, and with whom they’re comfortable. Think about the last big purchase you made. What made you choose the company you decided to do business with? I’d venture a guess that it was probably due to the relationship you built with a person.
If you’d like help developing relationships through social media and then taking them offline, give us a call.