We used to feel overwhelmed by networking and communications when we had only voice mail, and those cocktail parties and galas to go to. Networking meant showing up to see and be seen. At conferences, old-fashioned networking consisted of the “evening receptions” and then the “bar scene” afterward with the company president or event host staying to the bitter end. Networking meant being at those events so people knew you were there. It meant seeing your peers, sponsors, and prospects at other functions and continuing to build relationships.
Today is different. Fewer and fewer corporate folks are even attending all the events to which they are invited. They just don’t have the time. And the rights holders-the smart ones-are cutting back on the number of networking events they host. Why? Because social media has infiltrated this area as well.
Who needs to attend an event when they can comment or share the post/picture/commentary via Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, YouTube, or wherever? You can still “be there” without being there. You can still be part of the conversation. You can still network and “attend” virtually while you are at your son’s hockey practice or daughter’s Brownie meeting. Networking is beyond physical presence. Through social media, you can experience, share, and contribute even though you may be a block or a hemisphere away. When done right, you are part of the conversation and the networking function. Just last month, I moderated a Perfect Pitch Panel for Culture Days. There were 200 people onsite… and many more on a live stream… most of whom contributed, posted, and shared during the session.
We need to understand that networking has changed. It is more than the glass of wine or beer in one hand and shaking hands with a new person or old acquaintance with the other. It is more than the gala dinner event and moving from table to table. Once we move away from this concept that so many of us hold dearly, once we accept that change, then and only then can we truly understand how to integrate social media into our sponsorship programs. Because social media is the now, and it is the biggest opportunity for rights holders and sponsors to interface with audiences. Just as today’s networking has left the corner pub and hotel ballroom, sponsorship has migrated to social media inclusion. Perhaps it is time that we caught up with that migration.
These are just one person’s thoughts. Yours are welcomed as well. Please add your thoughts or comments below. Thank you for reading and your feedback.
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