There’s no doubt that social media has had a profound impact on how businesses market themselves. Just about everyone has a Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest or Google+ account now, and businesses are following suit.

Social media is an effective and affordable way for a business to reach out to a lot of people and stay connected with them.

However, one valid criticism of social media and dependence on the Internet in general is that people could start to lose their personal social skills and the value of networking face to face.

As people spend more of their time online using social media, browsing websites and shopping online and less time with people, what happens to the human connection?

Bringing back a human connection

The truth is that in many ways in-person networking can actually enhance social media and online networking.

When someone can put a face -not just a photo -to a name, the connection will be much stronger and more authentic.

Blindly friending everyone in the virtual world then takes a back seat to connecting with someone you’ve met personally and with whom you share a genuine connection.

These social networking connections will be given precedence over less personal connections. They’re also more likely to lead to sales and ongoing, mutually beneficial professional relationships.

Why is face-to-face communication so significant? Needless to say, much more information is exchanged when people are meeting in person.

However, much of it is non-verbal. From facial expressions and body language to their tone of voice and even how they dress, these nonverbal cues can communicate a lot about a person.

All of this leads to your level of comfort (or discomfort) felt with someone, and all of this information influences the future of your relationship.

Offline Networking

Offline networking can take many forms. You can attend organized networking events and professional groups, go to Meetups and attend conferences and conventions.

You don’t have to concern yourself with promoting your brand at a tradeshow or convention, particularly if you have a booth or tent prominently featuring your logo.

You want people to remember your name and keep track of your business card, not to just think of you as a rep for your company.

You can even make impromptu connections while out in public running your errands or sipping a latte in a coffee shop. These social events and interactions can ultimately help your social media campaigns as well as improve your brand’s image both online and offline.

Getting back into in-person networking can seem daunting at first, especially if you’ve become heavily reliant on social media to the exclusion of meeting with people in person.

If this is the case, ease back into it gradually. Start with people you already have a rapport with, and don’t meet with too many people at once. Be organic and go with the flow. Let things unfold naturally, and above all, be yourself. Be genuine and authentic, and present yourself and your business in the most accurate light possible.

Blending social media networking with in-person networking can be a powerful marketing solution, and each method can enhance the other.

What it boils down to is that it is not an either-or situation; both social media and face-to-face networking have distinct value and advantages. Each method of marketing and making connections is highly useful and often a blend of both is the most effective solution.

Maintain Your Networking Connections

Read more: Maintain Your Networking Connections