I dusted a post I wrote a couple of years ago as I thought it worthy to reopen this issue. Have sites like Facebook and LinkedIn made us impatient? Is developing relationships in 140 characters or less even possible?
It seems the ongoing increase in popularity of online social media websites has changed our expectations about how we should communicate. However, while the result may indeed be an unprecedented increase in the amount of online communications, these days it is questionable if we have anything to show for it…at least in terms of forming more valuable connections in our networking.
It is true that online social networking does bring about a quicker response when it comes to seeking to form new relationships, compared to the seemingly laborious efforts of the pre-internet age. But is it making us lazy? After all, truly effective communication still requires the time and effort necessary to source and leverage valuable relationships.
Fostering relationships offline may be longer and harder, but it is typically far more effective. The tools of the Internet have not replaced the importance of in-person communication, but as social networking tools, they have offered a preliminary and highly effective first step by providing a wider reach in which to effectively pursue networking.
For social networking to be effective it needs to encapsulate a two-step process. The first essential piece is access to social resources, followed by the second: utilization thereof.
Social networking websites are the tools that provide the means of “access” to a wider, online audience. However, truly effective and valuable networking does not end at this online stage. The fact that you have access to social networking resources does not mean you can utilize the resource found in them.
Indeed, an increasing number of us these days are lacking in this department, having become increasingly dependent on the wide reach of the internet to ‘do our work for us’ and thus are missing the skills to leverage even our existing social networks, much less one that has been expanded online. The failure to utilize or “leverage our social networks” is not a permanent problem, however. The good news is that it is a “teachable” skill and perhaps the simplest approach is to take the concept of networking to the conscious level – that is, align what we want to accomplish to contacts in our network.
The bottom line is that, once learned, the ability to leverage an expanding social network will bring about the very results we seek from networking in the first place. We are still the crux to our own success in networking and, regardless of the alluring promise of the vast online reach readily available through social networking tools, nothing can ever replace the ‘human effect’ in communicating with one another.
Networking effectively is a skill we still need to learn to do well, if we are to maximize the potential of our social networks beyond a mere online ‘friend’ or ‘follower’ tally.
How do you teach networking? Would love to hear about it.