Is social media really a place to build professional relationships or is that just a myth?
The lines between online and offline are getting more blurry by the minute. There are now more than 277 million people on LinkedIn worldwide, and those people are constantly translating their online presence to establishing legitimate professional relationships, growing their skill sets, and even landing new positions. I’ve had a LinkedIn account for years, but haven’t really embraced the idea that we can build real professional relationships in the virtual world of Social Media until recently. Sound familiar?
I am not the guy who believes everything I read online or find on YouTube. Don’t get me wrong, I am sometimes entertained by what I see online. However I never believed I could build a true professional relationship, let alone friendship, by connecting to random strangers on a Social Media platform.
It started with a short message sent on LinkedIn and a brief phone call exchanging stories and experiences with Elaine. Every so often we re-connect through an InMail, email, or a phone call to touch base. Each time learning a little more about each other’s profession, families, and daily lives.
One evening I was sitting in a restaurant, and I caught a glimpse of someone who looked uncannily familiar. Bothered by the fact that I felt I somehow knew this person, but unable to remember her name, I began to approach her table. Then, in a flash, it came to me. I didn’t know her, but she looked exactly like Elaine Longmire’s LinkedIn profile picture that overtime had grown so familiar. The next day I called Elaine and we had a good laugh about her Spokane-based doppelgänger. This experience exposed the power of social media, because I realized that I had developed a real relationship with someone I had never even physically met. This relationship was even real enough for me to mistakenly recognize an online connection in the “real world.”
Social Media provides many opportunities not just from a professional prospective, but from the ability to establish genuine relationships on and offline. It has always been my goal to make a positive and meaningful impact on each and every person, I encounter in my day to day adventures.
My social networking to “real-world” networking story proves that we impact each other on Social Media every single day. I encourage you to graduate some of your online networking efforts to real world business contacts. You never know what may come of it! If I haven’t had the chance to shake your hand in person or virtually through the phone lines, I look forward to visiting with you soon!