Is Traditional Networking Dead?

This post advocates the preservation, versus total abandonment, of old-style business networking at least until Xtreme Networking becomes truly widespread and each new person one meets is screened for value in four minutes. (Interestingly, in recent years a Chicago company has been offering such speed dating style networking events for business.)

Lately I’ve attended a lot of local workshops, breakfast, lunch and after-hours meetings in Fort Lauderdale and Boca Raton.  I’ve watched a lot of webinars.  My goal is to help clients achieve their best marketing return on investment (ROI).  To do that I need to keep up with the latest trends and to continually educate myself about changes in the way goods and services are marketed in 2011.  It’s also part of my own networking plan.

All the meetings I’ve attended so far were ostensibly designed to educate the under-informed; but, of course, the underlying intent was to sell services.  Similarly, social networking seeks to engage potential customers through a mutually-beneficial dialogue, but the underlying intent is still ultimately to sell something.

Not what you’d call a “newbie,” I’ve been immersed for decades in advertising and professional public relations; yet I’m learning a little something new with each session.  Essentially a freelance business writer, I take copious notes.  As I review them, one thought keeps haunting me:  “The more things change, the more they seem to stay the same.”  Let me attempt to draw a few parallels.

Martha and Maxine Talk About Networking with Social Media, Etc.

Martha’s Way

Maxine’s Way

Build your reputation through personal branding I don’t own any cows
Synchronize LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter pages with your website and Blog Try dialing the phone
Write an insightful Blog every week Take more naps
Recommend and Friend people Friend is not a verb
Start a dialogue and engage people Oh, shut the duck up
Develop friendships, not leads Don’t call me, I’ll call you
Use links for better SEO results SEO? New sausage recipe?
Set up RSS feeds Is that like the KISS principle?
Keep an eye on your ROI as you go viral Only under doctor’s supervision
Use Google Analytics to gauge results Analyze THIS!

Seriously, the point is that face-to-face networking is still alive and well, and e-mail is not quite dead yet.  We shouldn’t be too quick to declare things “dead.”  As always, marketing efforts work best when integrated or synchronized. In-person networking can flow in tandem with social media networking. Just as a book can still become a movie, a blog post might become a video.  Someone you meet at a business function can be someone you connect with on LinkedIn or Friend on Facebook.

Not a sausage recipe, search engine optimization (SEO) is, of course, vital when it comes to being found by Google’s “spiders” and by other search engines.  If you are paying to help ensure that your business can be found when someone searches for it on the Internet, SEO that works will surely enhance your ROI. But don’t forget to put a sign out front that can clearly be read by approaching cars.

For my money Really Simple Syndication (RSS) doesn’t quite qualify under the “Keep It Simple, Stupid” (KISS) principle of old.  RSS feeds aren’t that simple to explain, yet the benefit is not complex:  easily being able to subscribe to and read timely updates from favored websites. RSS feeds are a great time-saver, yet you may still want to track down a hard copy of that newspaper article with your quote and photo in it so you can frame it.

Both word-of-mouth and viral marketing rely on trust.  Most people still will not spread the word about a product or service, either in person or through social media, unless it comes from a trusted source, such as possibly a medical professional.  We still need our soft skills, reputation rules and words still matter.

Various methods of measuring advertising’s effectiveness have existed as long as advertising has existed.  Google Analytics is simply a modern version of tracking your advertising ROI and more.

Even as I write, technologies are being developed that will present new and faster ways to do things. But it can’t hurt to review your options when you choose how and when to embrace those new ways.  It’s important to note that audiences are not migrating from one medium to another. They are spreading their attention across all platforms. For example, people are watching more online videos than ever, yet tv viewing is actually on the rise as well.

Until everyone owns and can operate a smartphone that scans an encoded business card which instantly takes them to a website, or until the facial recognition app is perfected, we will still exchange uncoded business cards and later visit each other’s websites.  In the extreme, we might even want to get out of our comfort zones, attend a “meet and greet,” shake hands and send someone a hand-written follow-up note!

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Comments

  • Delila  On May 9, 2013 at 2:02 am

    I’m really enjoying the design and layout of your website. It’s a very
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  • Rose Sexton  On May 9, 2013 at 8:35 am

    Hello. Thanks for your comment. I had some help with this blog layout, but did not hire a professional designer. Also, my website is actually a GoDaddy template: http://www.writethere4u.com, which I set up and edit myself. They make it fairly easy, and it has a “contact” page.

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