Are social media contacts enough?
Do virtual contacts result in sales?
How real are you to your online contacts?
It would be easier if all contacts were created equal, but they ain’t.
People will always prefer to do business with someone they have met in the flesh. Social media contacts are never going to replace face-to-face (F2F) ones.
Where Do You Find Real-World Contacts?
I find mine at Local MeetUp groups.
I spend my day typing at my laptop and never meet anyone F2F. This suits me very well, thank you, and that has been my way of working for nearly six years now.
A few months ago I decided I needed to get out more. I searched and found a MeetUp group for entrepreneurs in Cork, near to where I live.
The evening of the meeting came around and I was first there, because I have a total aversion to being late. I hung around the hotel foyer trying to look as though I belonged and eventually a couple of guys came along who I recognised from their MeetUp profile pics.
We shook hands and introduced ourselves and I thought “Hmmm, why didn’t I do this years ago?”
Other people materialised and we paraded into the room where we were to have our discussions.
This particular group has one person presenting a business problem they are facing and others brainstorm possible solutions. I was not yet ready to share my own business, but I did contribute a whole host of ideas to the evening’s brave soul who was baring all.
Two weeks later I did present my business for suggestions. There were some that were useful and it gave me a different viewpoint, which I found useful.
I gave a presentation on content marketing in June, which went well and confirmed to other people that I was a serious member of the group. Check out my presentation here.
Three months later, and I have two joint ventures with people I met at the MeetUp. One involves me interviewing local entrepreneurs and the plan is to get the interviews into the local newspaper. These interviews have already led to work and further contacts with the local business community. The second joint venture is a Udemy course on content marketing with a guy who has all the professional video editing kit. I write it and he does the speaking and videoing (because he is more camera-friendly than I am).
My business is also more focused because I have taken on board the suggestions I was given.
I still spend my day typing at the laptop, but I can ring people up and arrange to meet for a tea or coffee anytime I need a break from the virtual world.
I have set up my own MeetUp group now, but that’s another story for another time.
Are Virtual Contacts Important At All?
Yes, yes and yes again.
I have earned thousands of pounds and dollars from people I have never met.
These contacts were much more than just casual Twitter contacts, though. They were people I met and talked with for months on end at forums and by email.
They were people who saw me helping others in the same forum. Sam saw me on the forum and asked whether I could write about broadband and mobile phones. Three months later he was sending me 400 x 1,000 word articles to write, paying £20 each. And this was in the days when the pound was worth a lot more than it is now.
Hans saw me on the same forum and asked me to write 1,000 product descriptions for him. I cannot look at a kid’s Superman suit the same ever again!
They were people I helped directly, even though I gave that help without expectation of reward. Ann employed me as a moderator for her site when I flagged up a few issues I had with other users’ content.
Decision Time – Virtual Vs. Real Life Contacts
You don’t need to choose at all. I didn’t and I still don’t.
You can make a difference by talking with virtual and real-life friends. Making a difference is what it’s about. If you work to help people they will repay your kindness in some way in the future.
Talk to people on forums, Twitter and Facebook AND look for ways to meet people face-to-face, because you need both types of contacts.
You can only pitch when you are face-to-face with someone. Even thenn you have only a few seconds to make an impression. Entrepreneurs Anonymous hold meetups in Cork, including this pitching workshop.