ARE YOU HIDING BEHIND YOUR SCREEN?
Your computer is the world in a box, and then some. Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, these are the modern soapboxes for us to make ourselves heard by the public. With more and more people considering online communication to be the norm, it’s important to remember that nothing can truly replace a personal face to face connection.
Communication is the name of the game. Communication is so much more than just the words we say, and that is what gets lost in translation. If you have ever sent a text message where your joke didn’t come through, or someone thought you were upset when you weren’t, you know how much you are missing when you aren’t actively interacting. Studies say that about two thirds of communication is nonverbal. This means that when you are sending a message out, you are losing out on well over half of your meaning. If you only read every third word of this piece, imagine how useful it would be. Not very. Facial expression, tone, even the way you plant your feet or cross your arms, all of these things add to the literal words you say. Make sure that you get the right message out.
Networking in person or online both have the same goal: to make lasting connections. A major difference between the two is how they position their purpose. When you are networking online, people are focused on what they want to get out of the relationship. If you are looking for a business connection, the people you reach out to will expect to talk about business.
This is pragmatic, but it isn’t helpful for building up interpersonal bonds. In a real world get together, you can see the people you are talking to as actual humans, rather than business goals. In turn, others are able to see you for who you are as well, with all you have to offer as a person. At the end of the day, people want to work with people that they like. It is undeniably harder to get to know someone from behind a screen, so why not make it easier for yourself?
People are everywhere. In the virtual world, people are lining up, trying their best to stand out. In the physical world, you have to make that extra effort to notice and be noticed. Maybe it’s an overheard conversation at the bar, or a shared logo on a shirt, either way it is an opportunity to find common ground. Actually getting out there with real people, it’s harder than just clicking on the next profile on social media. And because it is harder, it will make a more confident you.