Don't forget the power of face time

Sure social media is all the rage, but you can't afford to ignore in-person networking.

I attended the Deltek Summer Party a few weeks back. While it was not quite the same as the December holiday party in terms of attendance, it was well attended and I saw some people I had not seen in a while, in some cases, a very long while.

I almost didn’t go, because it started mid-day and was in Tysons, while I am near Columbia, Maryland. The drive simply isn’t appealing. Being in Central Maryland, Northern Virginia events are not exactly convenient, requiring a minimum one hour drive each way. As the time approached, I donned my all black attire, hopped in the car, and popped in a CD.

Turns out it was worth the drive. The event attracted over 600 people for both the presentations and networking. I met several new people and saw a few that I had not seen in a while. Many of those I saw introduced me to others. Many indicated in had been “too long.”

Driving back to Howard County I had time to think (lots of time, as there was a 4 mile backup on I-270…). Even though I often write about the importance of relationships in our market, every now and then I need the cold, hard slap in the face that reminds me I have to get out more often.

Perhaps unconsciously I think my social networking activities are sufficient. I write and speak about social networking frequently, and even coach companies and individuals on using LinkedIn. As many who read Washington Technology know, I am quite active and visible on LinkedIn.

But as I ruminated on my return trip, this was myopic, and deep down I knew it. Heck, on the way over the CD I had popped in was a three-hour interview I recorded with Max Peterson back in 2007. One of the things we were discussing was the power of relationships and the need for sales and business development professionals to get out to the right venues on a regular basis.

So it occurred to me as I was listening to my interview with Max that the best way to stay top of mind was to leverage both live and social networking more regularly, even if it meant the occasional trip into Northern Virginia.

Selecting the right events, including conferences, briefings and seminars, as well as pure networking venues, is not easy. There are probably over a hundred government business events every business day in the National Capitol area, and as we all know, not all events are created equal.

So develop your criteria for selecting live events and make certain to attend a couple each month. Do the same for social networks. LinkedIn should be your primary network, but group selection once you are there is where you can meet or miss the right audience.

You know the saying – “out of sight, out of mind.” While you cannot be everywhere, you have to select face-to-face venues where the odds are good that you’ll see some key people in your niche.

And by the way, I got through about two and a half hours of my interview with Max Peterson during the drive to and from Tysons. Which leads me to another issue we all face….drive time…perhaps in another column.

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