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Network in person, not online

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in Career Management,Workplace Communication

by Morey Stettner

Recently, I interviewed an expert on networking. She insisted that the old-fashioned approach of attending a breakfast, shaking hands with strangers and exchanging business cards was largely a waste. Instead, she recommended online social networking “because you get to know people on a much more personal level.”

She argued that in person, you only chat for a few fleeting minutes and learn next to nothing about another individual. When you find that person’s business card weeks later, you may wonder, “Who is this?”

But online, you can review someone’s résumé, hobbies and family photos. She concluded that cyber-networking is a richer way to build a relationship and appreciate the whole person.

Maybe I’m stuck in the 20th century, but I favor face-to-face networking. Looking into someone’s eyes enables you to gather invaluable information.

Nonverbal cues help you evaluate the character and genuineness of the person. And even if you only talk for 10 minutes, you can judge whether you want to invest the time to stay in touch.

When you connect with someone online, you’re meeting a carefully crafted image. Some folks spend dozens of hours honing their online profiles so that they present their best self.

Occasionally, an online persona is a fraud. From falsified credentials to inflated accounts of accomplishments, people lie more in the virtual world.

You can still lie in person, of course. But we come away from face-to-face encounters with a more instinctive sense of whether we like or trust someone.

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