Larry BraunerI asserted in Social and Business Networking Evolving that the integration of offline and online social and business networking, along with mobile technology, will dominate the social space for years to come.

Since business networking sites first appeared back in 2003, offline and online business networking have remained dichotomous. Generally, we’ve networked either offline or online. Business networking participants who wisely bridged the offline-online networking gap were in the small minority. However, all that is changing.

Those people doing their business networking online have been learning the importance of connecting offline for building trusting relationships. At the same time, people doing their business networking offline have been looking online for ways to nurture relationships once a business event or meeting is over.

Still a Long Way to Go

Nevertheless, although we’re headed in the right direction, we’re a long way from from overcoming skepticism and from seamlessly joining offline and online business networking.

If you and I meet online, we can communicate by phone or by Skype. This type of offline contact can greatly improve the quality of our interaction. Then, if we’re not too separated by distance, we can meet face-to-face. We can also stay in touch online. This is the approach I take.

However, if you and I meet offline, we might never connect online. Neither LinkedIn, Facebook nor any other social or business networking site is open enough or prevalent enough for us to easily follow up after an offline business networking event or meeting. One or both of us might never even go online nor see the merit in keeping in touch online except for the use of email.

I’m confident we’ll gradually close existing business networking technology and credibility gaps. While we’re waiting, why not subscribe to my blog and leave me a comment? ;-)

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10 Responses to “Bridging the Offline-Online Business Networking Gap”

  1. Jack Goldenberg on July 19th, 2010 8:58 am

    Once again you done an excellent job of letting your readers know about something before it becomes evident to the masses. When online contacts go offline to network, they’ll be able to establish contact with people to a much greater depth than if they just connected digitally.

    Offline networkers who expand their Universe of contacts online will also be exposed to a wealth of contacts they never would have met if they never ventured into the digital space.

  2. Shari Weiss on July 19th, 2010 8:51 pm

    Larry, I’ll come at you from both sides:

    (1) Yours and my relationship is a perfect example of the synergistic relationship that starts online, proceeds to a phone call, and leads to a face-to-face meeting [despite the fact that you are East Coast and I’m from California].

    (2) In addition to my efforts to build an online presence with my blog, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter accounts — I attend quite a few networking groups with varying consistency. My personal goal to to get EVERYONE in the my two FAV groups to understand and learn the value of hooking up [in the sense we Baby Boomers understand the term :-) ] with me and our group members online as well as off.

    Small steps, but extremely critical ones. Thanks for pushing/propelling many of us forward.

  3. Bruce Symons on July 20th, 2010 11:14 pm

    Again Larry as always great information on bridging the gap. This can and will work very well online and offline once everyone learns how powerful social media really is in branding

  4. Elaine Greenberg on July 21st, 2010 12:42 pm

    Hi Larry,

    Charlotte, NC, has made some wonderful progress in this regard (IMHO).

    There are local LinkedIn groups, e.g., Network Charlotte, Charlotte Business Owners, Charlotte Business Professionals,
    Charlotte Business Women Leaders, Dress for Success Charlotte and Linked Local Charlotte NC.

    Many times these groups have local meetings.

    Furthermore, we often make personal and business connections via these initial online groups.

    As you note, the best of both worlds.

    Elaine

    P.S. I posted your article (with link) on my LinkedIn profile, congratulating all of us Charlotte business people on our ability to stay ahead of the curve.

  5. Elizabeth Crane on July 27th, 2010 12:53 pm

    Combining offline and online networking is crucial in today’s internet savvy world. Face to face still plays an important role. The combination of the two and actively following up can make the difference between just exchanging business cards to closing the deal.

    Business networking online and offline with the decision makers is the key!

  6. michael on July 28th, 2010 10:12 pm

    I have used offline networking to get my online social networking rolling many times. People that you can meet and talk to are more trusting to tell their friends about you and your online business.

  7. Matt on August 15th, 2010 8:49 am

    Yes, it’s interesting how the two worlds have continued in parallel. But marketing online products offline can be very effective. I’ve promoted local Australian affiliate programs by using flyers for a while now. While it’s hard work and the hits just trickle in, they seem to be more likely to convert into sales than any other form of traffic.

    I’m not into MLM, but people who are could benefit greatly from offline promotion. If they promote their websites locally with flyers and posters, they can attract people who live near them into their downlines.

    Face to face meeting is a lot easier, increasing the sense of trust. Then if they start networking online they can find others in the same city.

    Some people are doing this but I suspect that most aren’t. They stay online, and make contact with people in other cities and countries. It works, sure. But there is an untapped resources in their own backyards!

  8. Williams Robert on August 19th, 2010 6:49 am

    I believe that Skype is a good tool for interview as well. Video interview is now easy to conduct with the help of Skype. For more information visit: Skype Interview

  9. The Skinny on Networking by Jim Randel | Online Social Networking on August 22nd, 2010 9:25 pm

    […] Bridging the Offline-Online Business Networking Gap […]

  10. Study abroad programs on May 18th, 2011 4:01 am

    Yes, Here in my country people tend to use offline network as the main bussiness run. Online bussiness is considered as an advertising method. People love to meet and talk because they think that it is more trusting to tell otheres about your online business when they know they can visit your offline bussiness.

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