Face to face or in-person networking is certainly more time consuming and as busy as we are all are does not necessarily seem the most appealing option. However, there are some major pros with face to face networking which should be considered. Mainly being that you are much more likely to create a lasting and memorable impression as opposed to sending an impersonal message. As well as it is presenting you with multiple opportunities to meet with leads and businesses you may have otherwise dismissed – these can sometimes turn out to be your best clients.
As far as cons of in-person networking goes, there is not a vast amount. Some networking events require you to purchase a membership, closed networking groups can often become more of a social event and lose the focus of business.
Alternatively, LinkedIn can be a brilliant and powerful tool used for networking purposes. It removes barriers and opens your networking opportunities to a much wider audience. It allows you to share content, opinions and blogs to your network which can provide them with further insight into the value you can add to their business or demonstrate further your industry knowledge. However, this largely relies on your ability to create engaging and relevant content.
As far as LinkedIn goes it is most appropriate for B2B organisations. LinkedIn lacks the personal connection so many people favour in business, in this it overlooks the ability to build trustworthy relationships. How many times have you received a sales pitch after just connecting with someone and immediately dismissed that as a reputable connection? It cannot be denied that LinkedIn serves a purpose with networking, however, I would not recommend using it as a means to start relationship but perhaps one to maintaining the relationship instead.
Overall, LinkedIn is a great tool for maintaining relationships and identifying prospects but face to face networking is an invaluable asset to building rapport and creating the best possible first impression for a strong relationship. Using the two networking methods side by side could see big changes in your conversion success, but make sure you use both approaches to its strengths.