While some of us may have our own personal social media policy that strictly forbids the befriending of coworkers, a vast majority of us have let at least a handful of our closest cohorts into the private parts of our online public lives. Even when it seems ill-advised. Isn't it interesting that sharing 40-plus hours a week with these people isn't enough? And that, in many cases, we'd prefer to engage with them through a mediating device rather than via a face-to-face conversation?
While LinkedIn offers a professional alternative for connecting with colleagues and industry peers in a social media outlet, it still fosters mostly the same superficial interactions. How many times have you been endorsed by a person you've never personally worked with, or for a skill that you aren't really proficient at? It can certainly make you think twice about the validity and the sincerity of such endorsements.
Yes, LinkedIn is a great way to make new contacts, exchange ideas, and increase business opportunities. There's no arguing that it has an important place in our modern world. But, how often are we developing meaningful business relationships and, more importantly, having ground-breaking discussions?
Little compares to real-life conversations or in-person roundtable exchanges. When people start talking and receiving immediate feedback from each other, ideas grow exponentially. It's the spontaneity in the moment that's the spark. All the more reason that we should be looking for ways to take our networking opportunities offline.
If you're in a leadership role, you know that part of your job is to cultivate your team—and at least some of that professional growth should come from direct exchanges with like- or advanced skilled individuals. Are you supporting these kinds of interactions? What kinds of in-person networking or industry-specific events can you send your team members to?
Don't forget that, inside your office, networking opportunities exist as well, whether it's pairing a new hire with a mentor, getting two interrelated teams together for a brainstorm, or bringing in a speaker who can present on a current business topic. You could even host a lunch & learn—a Baudville favorite that comes highly recommended!
The goal is to remind your team of the value of real dialogue, in real time, with real people. Really, it makes a difference.
*Statistic source: socialfish.org