If you know anything about my background or the wonderful work we do at Interactive Design Solutions, the title of this article probably strikes you as a bit odd. In fact, if you would have asked me just a few short years ago how important face to face networking is compared to online networking, I probably would have just laughed and explained how they don’t even compare. Truth be told I’ve had many experiences in the last few years that have changed my attitude on networking altogether. Here’s one I will never forget.

The Setup

My old networking mentality was that anyone in any business could do enough networking offline OR online to sustain and grow their business. However, my experiences ultimately proved to me that was only a good mentality if I was okay with missing out.

The Story

A few years ago, I noticed a local company put a request for proposals online to have their website rebuilt. As usual, I jumped on the opportunity and submitted a proposal within a couple days and began following up with them. We had a meeting with the project lead and really connected with her. After a couple weeks, I learned we had lost the job to another company. When I followed up to learn why, she let me know they decided to go with a company that had submitted a proposal AND she had run into at a networking event.

Almost a year later I ran into the head of the other company at an industry type of event. We got to talking about the project and how it went. Then I finally asked him about the strange coincidence of their meeting at the networking event. I’ll never forget his reply. He simply said, “You can create your own coincidences.”

What I learned, the hard way

You see, while we had done as much as we could online it wasn’t enough. By communicating with the project lead mostly online, we unwittingly grouped ourselves into the same category as everyone else that had applied. The networking event offered a secret sauce to the overall equation. That one company, because they chose to network offline, had an extra opportunity to meet, discuss, and get to know the same project lead we had all talked to on a deeper level.

I want to leave you with a question

Are you networking enough offline? You may go to an event here, or there, and that is a good start. However, unless you are okay with missing out, you need to do more. Learning from my mistakes and some words of wisdom, we now consciously make offline AND online networking a part of our business plan.

I think Coke Zero nailed it with their recent commercials. “AND is always better.” Especially when it comes to networking!

Image from Wiki Commons