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PWCC Community Blog: Using Social Media to Help You Network

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, December 6, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Without a doubt, social media has changed the way we can communicate – with our friends or with strangers.  Social media has made communicating a 24/7 business.

We can now share content with little effort, whether these postings last forever or only for twenty-four hours.  Indeed social media allows us to curate our lives with some airbrushing and precision, things not possible when we interact face-to-face.

Which brings up a question: are we networking when we are using social media?  Which then leads to another question: should we care whether or not we are networking?

The answer is certainly not straightforward but nuanced through the lens of our need for instant connection and feedback.

Mandy Edwards reminds us that “we are now able to interact with thousands of people all over the world – this is why we see people who have thousands of Facebook friends or tens of thousands of Twitter followers. Without social media, that would be impossible. Social media networks allow us the opportunity to share opinions with a far wider audience.”

And this vast type of connection is something of a two-edged sword, as the use of social media may be impacting our ability to really connect with people face-to-face.

In the October 24, 2017 issue of Forbes, Tom Peters, the business strategist extraordinaire, said, “Guarding your reputation is easy.  To build it, though you must invest insane amounts of time to developing and maintaining relationships from the bottom to the top of every organization with which you come in contact.”

And is there really enough “insane” amount of time available to build relationships with hundreds or thousands of people?  To state the obvious: no.  So is what we are doing on social media networking or something else?

For Soren Gordhamer, social media affords a way to start a conversation that face-to-face meetings should continue. “Of course, there is only so much communication that can happen through a social network, but via Tweetups and other in-person events, people are expanding these online interactions to face-to-face meetings. The introductions are initially made through social networks, then people develop the relationship using phone calls and in-person meetings. In other words, social media is increasingly being used to find and maintain both old and potentially new friendships.”

The rub to social media is that genuine communication is comprised almost entirely of nonverbal clues:  of the traditional give-and-take of listening and looking for verbal and visual clues as to whether you are being understood and accepted.  Social media relies on the small percentage of communicating that is strictly verbal: you are what you write.

Anna Johnson reminds us “When used correctly, professional networking via social media can unlock many doors and create valuable opportunities for professional development and advancement. However, when done incorrectly, you can burn many bridges and close doors of opportunity.”

Social media is an ideal place for getting that lunch or meeting set up with your potential connection. Keep in mind that is where the real benefit of professional networking with social media comes into play - in making connections. Social media is not an ideal place for actually doing business, discussing professional development opportunities, or directly meeting most worthwhile goals or objectives.

Think of it this way: there’s a reason so many successful business people play golf (or some other form of social sport). Doing so affords everyone an opportunity to do something enjoyable in a relaxed setting with others, getting to know each other and share ideas and thoughts.

Social media may help you find people with whom to play golf, but it won’t get you on the links.  Cultivating a relationship through face-to-face interactions will.

Submitted by:  Carol Jambor-Smith, Principal and Founder, Jambor-Smith Communications, strategic communications that engages, changes, and inspires.  carol@jamborsmithcommunications.com

Professional Women's Club of Chicago, PWCC is a Chicago based networking organization that provides networking connections that support, enrich and inspire women to advance professionally and personally. Members come from public and private sectors, multi-billion dollar corporations, mid-size and small businesses, as well as, non-profit organizations. Membership is open to women from all industries in all stages of their careers who want to develop a strong lifelong network. Learn more about membership and upcoming activities

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