While the benefits of being able to connect with people online cannot be overstated, it shouldn’t be the ONLY way you spend your networking time. Of course, if you’re conducting a job search within an area where you’re not currently living, it may be the most realistic option. However, it can help to build some phone time into your schedule.
Connections are typically established much more quickly in person than among those that have only interacted online. That’s why so many “fast friendships” develop at conferences. The lead time for building these types of relationships is longer when you have never had that personal connection.
Ideally, online networking would serve as a complement to “real life” encounters. And, of course, sites like LinkedIn help when you have a wide network – there would be no way you could realistically spend the time connecting with so many people otherwise. Social media can serve as an easy way to stay in touch, keep up on each other’s lives, and remember exactly who they are and what they do.
Most of us use online networking as our sole source of meeting people, and with good reason – time. We’re simply too busy to go out to events each evening in to meet new people.
Fortunately, there’s a middle ground. Consider building in regular time to connect with people in person (whether formal networking events, lunch or coffee meetings, etc.) as well as phone time (example, two 15 minute calls per week). And, be selective-you shouldn’t spend this extra time on just anyone. Follow the 80/20 rule – 80% of your network will likely stay acquaintances, but 20% have the potential to become very valuable contacts.