How is Online Networking Different from (or Similar to) In-Person Networking?

How is Online Networking Different from (or Similar to) In-Person Networking?

COVID-19 was life changing in so many ways for nearly everyone. One good thing that emerged from it was the confirmation that almost everything we do in person can be done over the internet. This sparked the debate: Online networking or in-person networking? In this blog, we dive into how online networking is different from or similar to in person networking.

If you were to pitch the idea of online networking to me 10 years ago, I would run. 

I wouldn’t buy it, and there’s probably nothing you could do or say to convince me otherwise.

Why?

Simply because we were in a much different place in life.

And as much as the internet was starting to become popular, a lot of people just wouldn’t believe that it’s powerful enough to bring hundreds of people together, much less, to celebrate entrepreneurship & help owners who are looking to grow.

Networking in…for example, was face to face, until the dreadful COVID-19 happened.

And with a full lockdown in place, after 2 years of face to face networking, we had no choice but to switch online, just like the rest of the world.

Remote working became a thing, and so did online networking.

And if you ask me, that period changed the world, permanently. Because we realised that there’s not much we can’t do from the comfort of our homes.

Still, I see the pros of face to face networking. I mean, we can’t ignore the fact that seeing someone physically has a much more lasting impression.

There is none better than the other. Face to face networking and online networking both have their pros and cons, and I wouldn’t advise anyone to completely forego one over the other.

If you’re thinking about finding a tribe, what’s important is that you find a format and people that work for you.

Be that online or face to face, or dare I say hybrid.

You turn up authentically. You turn up consistently. And if you really want to fit in, you show a genuine interest in the other people.

Let’s look into online networking and in person networking and the pros and cons of each.

Online networking

At a networking event earlier this year, someone said to me, “When I hear Zoom, I shudder. I hate it… I refuse to network online.”

Shortly after, I told him what I do, and it was a bit of an awkward situation.

It’s a bit like telling an insurance agent that you hate insurance agents…Or a teacher that you can’t stand them. Quite rude, right?

However, I didn’t really take it personally. I mean, I get it.

Pros and Cons of Online Networking

Pros

  • It Saves your Time and Money

If you work a 9 – 5, you don’t just work a 9 – 5. You have to account for the amount of time it takes you to commute to and from work. When you get back home, you’re probably too tired and all you want to do is rest. It’s never just a 9 -5, it’s much more than that.

The same goes for face to face networking. It takes a lot of time and even money to commute. And that’s the benefit of online networking.

Online networking is quick. It saves you time. You simply jump onto your computer from wherever you find comfortable, and you make lifelong business connections.

  • It’s Comfortable and Convenient

With online networking, you are able to make connections quickly, and it’s probably less intimidating. It’s comfortable and convenient, because you can do it from practically anywhere.

It’s easier to fit it into your schedule than face to face networking.

  • Wider Scope

With online networking, you get to network on a larger scale because there are rarely ever any geographical boundaries.

There’s a limitless amount of people who you can meet in any part of the world, and because of this, you get to make more and more business connections.

  • It’s Better for the Planet

Online networking is a thousand times better for the planet! Lesser commuters eventually result in lower greenhouse gas emissions, which is a major contributor to global warming.

Cons

Conversely, here are 5 cons of online networking

  • It Can Feel Impersonal

There’s something about interacting with people physically that you don’t always get when you do so online. Online networking sometimes feels impersonal and disconnected from the real world.

What this does is that we easily misinterpret people, and their personalities don’t always come out fully. 

  • Doesn’t Work for All Personalities

There are people who are quieter and more reserved online, but more outgoing when you meet them in person. 

So, it’s definitely not everyone’s cup of tea.

Face to face networking

I’d be lying if I said that I haven’t been to a couple of face to face networking events this year.

And after being stuck at home during COVID-19 lockdowns, it felt like we were all prisoners let out. So yes, face to face networking felt like a breath of fresh air.

It’s kind of like working from home. It can sometimes be exhausting, and you just want to be let out. But that’s beside the point.

Pros and Cons of Face to Face Networking

Just like with online networking, face to face networking also has its pros and cons.

Pros

  • It’s More Memorable

There’s no denying that face-to-face networking is more memorable. When you see and experience someone, you’re likely to form connections easier.

You get to see the complete picture, so to speak, rather than just a little face in the corner of your screen.

  • Better Communication and Less Misinterpretation

Meeting in-person means that there’s no audio lag or cut-outs when multiple people are talking, so conversation flows easier and more naturally.

Since it’s real time, face to face networking offers better communication and less misinterpretation. 

  • Deep Meaningful Connections

Since you’re able to see all the signs and the body language clearly, in the long run, face to face networking gives deep, meaningful connections.

Cons

  • Time-Consuming and Costly

On the flip side of the coin, having to commute to the place of networking every so often takes up a lot of your time, which could otherwise be spent more productively.

It takes more money for fuel and other necessities.

  • Not Good for the Environment

More vehicles on the road translates to Vehicle pollutants which harm our health and contain greenhouse gases that cause climate change.

If you’re anything like me, it’s really important that we care for the environment, at least for the generations to come.

Conclusion

In summary, both online networking and face-to-face networking are very, very effective. 

You can make genuine, quality connections with other businesspeople, build your business, and get support on your journey either way. Virtual networking is often more convenient, while in-person networking is more natural. 

And if you’re a regular at Networking in…, you’ve heard me say a thousand times that the secret to networking is in 1-2-1s. It’s in forming individual connections with the people that we meet.

Online networking does not mean forming an ‘online connection,’ alone, but it’s a great first connection before you interact with someone physically. 

And face-to-face networking shouldn’t also limit you to always meeting face to face, as this takes a lot of time and money. 

In the long run, a blend of both online and face-to-face networking will bring you the best possible results and help you to thrive in business.

If you would like to come along to Networking in… and experience some online networking, we’ve got some great sessions coming up. You can check them out here

We’re always up for a chat. If you would like to talk, get in touch. Outside ideas are on a mission to help people and businesses grow. We have a range of support that can help you.

Onwards and upwards my friend,

Pete.

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