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Business networking is more important now than ever, thanks to social platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. But don’t underestimate the value of face to face networking that can still get done. You might be surprised by me saying that, since I am so big on social. But I actually find in-person networking at events to be super important to me, especially right now.

Through the last decade, I have built brand equity up through many different platforms online. On Twitter I engaged with people and talked. Facebook allowed me to share content. YouTube gave me a platform to have a show. But there is an entirely different strategy involved when you attend networking events or walk into a meeting, face to face networking vs online networking is very different, there is different context.

Gary who?!

Maybe this will surprise some of you, but to most people, I am completely unknown. Period. 99% of people don’t know who I am, so when you think about me making moves at a dinner party, remember that very often, I’m starting from the same place you would be. This is the context I was talking about before. You need to create an environment around yourself that shows who you are, what your strengths are, and what you’re passionate about.

That can be a lot to convey in the space that networking involves. But think of yourself as on the offense. Just talk to and engage face to face with as many people as possible, and be open and forward about what you do, who you are, etc. I would ask a lot of questions, but I also wouldn’t necessarily wait for people to ask you questions. This is what I mean by being on the offense with in person networking.

Don’t do this

One thing I do not recommend as a networking tip is trying to figure out who the “top dog” is and attaching yourself to them for the event. That is a very defensive move, because you’re already thinking about things in terms that are outside of this particular event. Who is going to get me the most bang for my buck once we leave here? Don’t think like that. Just get on the offense and engage. Be open. Plus, if you focus on one person, you might miss talking to that one guy who was gonna make all your dreams come true. And that would suck.

Bottom line

Essentially, I am really looking to let serendipity take over. In many situations, face to face networking can feel a bit sleazy very quickly. I think this happens when people have a hardcore objective going in (like finding the top dog, as I mentioned above.) If you go in with a bit more openness, that can help immensely.

So: be on the offense. Let chance take over a bit. Learn to relax and enjoy yourself. Networking is, and should be, fun and full of opportunities.