As a professional small business owner, there are probably a number of reasons why you chose to concentrate your business marketing upon online networking and communications rather than going out and promoting your business in your local area.
By adding a blog to your small business, it enables you to harness the power of a global communications platform at a low cost, without leaving the comfort of your home or office to promote your products and services.
Apprehensive small business owner…
For the shy and retiring business owners among us, blogging fits a number of needs easily.
It stops us having to go out in to the big wide world and network, it prevents us from having to pay a fortune on paper-based advertising, and once we are up and running it enables us to engage with a worldwide audience and develop superb contacts (and even friends) through the platform.
With all this going for it, is there any need for the small business owner to ever don their suit again and get out there for some face to face networking?
Although the initial stages of setting up an online business can all be undertaken in a darkened room, working in the small hours with a dog at your feet and twilight approaching, as we grow and develop as business owners we can’t ignore the benefits of face to face marketing and networking.
Small business owners meet at last…
Despite the growth in trust and use of the internet, an online environment can never replace the benefits of meeting someone in the flesh, and giving someone the opportunity to do the same with you.
Our blogs provide a wealth of access in to our inner thinking, mindset, principles and way of working. Through our blog writing, we are able to convey a number of facets of our personality including our sense of humour, morals, ethics and business practices.
The increased use of videoconferencing and teleconferencing enable us to share our faces and voices with people all over the world, and yet still the picture is not complete until someone meets us face to face.
Taking a tip from online dating
When we sign up to an internet site for an online dating experience, we normally follow a set pattern.
We put up a photograph which hopefully portrays us in the best possible light.
We then write up all the best elements about ourselves, in the hope that it makes us come across as sensitive, good-natured and ultimately attractive.
We may engage the support of friends or family in order to gain an unbiased perspective of our positive attributes to put on the site, in the hope that they will help us overcome our natural reticence and put across a great impression.
If all goes according to plan, the next stage is to find someone whom we are attracted to, and who likes us from our profile.
We may send them a nudge or respond to a tentative e-mail, and then the real communication starts. We begin with e-mail conversations, and then instant messaging for a few weeks, and then if all goes well from that stage we may engage in a few phone calls over a glass of wine for courage.
After the phone calls?
We progress to arranging a face-to-face meeting. Up until this point, things were quite straightforward. We didn’t need to worry what to wear, and the only thing to get nervous about was possibly missing a phone call.
And yet, with the prospect of a real date looming, we become full of trepidation.
We think about it all the time. We may get our hair done, buy a new outfit, and spend anguished hours over choosing the right destination for that first liaison.
The problem is, no matter how much preliminary work we put in to getting to know a potential partner before meeting face to face, the truth is none of it seems to count for anything until we actually sit down opposite our prospective partner and vet them.
Do we find them attractive?
Do they make us laugh face to face?
Are we compatible?
Do they smell right?
Do they have decent table manners and a passable dress sense?
Are they well groomed?
All of these things count between two human beings looking to forge a new relationship. We can spend hours with someone in the virtual world, only to pitch up on a first date and find that the person repels everything within us when we meet them in the flesh.
And this is why face-to-face networking is so important
Why meeting people in the flesh can make your business work
Just like with online dating, we are unable to develop true, lasting and trusting relationships with people online, unless we can meet them in the flesh and know whether we will click with them or not.
This is why, despite the effectiveness of blogging and the net, people still attend business networking schemes and meet with people, getting up at ungodly hours of the morning to drag ourselves to breakfast meetings, donning a suit and making ourselves presentable.
Face to face networking leaves people with a lasting impression of who we are, enabling them to (hopefully) take an instant like to us and decide that they want to work with us.
We can engage in conversation instantly, and our non-verbal signals and our overall demeanor lend weight to the power of face-to-face networking by adding to the overall impression which we present to people.
When we hand over a business card in person, we are inviting people to take us up on our offer to provide them with services and share in our business.
When they shake our hand, potential customers are much more likely to take us up on that invitation.
No matter where the internet takes us in future, the likelihood is that the power of social networking in the real world will always have the upper hand when it comes to forging business relationships.
What’s your view?
Face-to-face or hide behind the pc?
Please share your views (others have!) in the comments below.