Since the pandemic, we’ve all got used to using Zoom or Teams as a way of bring people together, and let’s face it – they’ve been invaluable. But as we continue to emerge into the ‘new normal’, more and more face to face events are taking place once again. But when it comes to online or in-person networking, which is better? In this blog, we discuss the pros and cons of each, and explain the Tabono approach, and our reasons for it.
When the pandemic hit, we brought our entire business online, and Zoom quickly became a tool that was fundamental to our survival. We introduced twice-weekly coffee breaks (designed to replace your stereotypical water cooler/chat in the kitchen-type moments. Virtual co-working ensured that people felt they could work ‘together’, making sure than none of our members or clients felt alone. And of course, we ran regular online networking events.
So what are some of the benefits of online networking?
- Convenience – there’s no denying that. If you take the need to travel to in-person events out of the equation, you end up with more time in your day. The same goes for location – you can join from home, on a walk, or in your car.
- Geography – again, this makes total sense. When it comes to online or in-person networking, the online variety means that it doesn’t matter where you, or the other attendees, are in the world.
- Reach – Another no brainer. If you’re connecting with people online, your potential reach, and therefore the potential size of your network, becomes much broader. The same goes for the number of places in which you can network.
And what about in-person networking? Well, there are a range of benefits there, too:
- Personal connection – if the pandemic has taught use anything, it’s the importance of relationships. In-person networking allows us to develop a much deeper connection with others, compared to relationships developed via a screen.
- Putting a face to a name – arguably, you can still do this through online networking. We know what people look like, from the waist up at least. But, when you’re behind a screen, you never get to see the ‘whole’ person, read their body language, or interact completely ‘naturally’. In person, there is no need for phrases like ‘you’re on mute’, or waving to your fellow attendees when you leave!
- The right ‘vibe’ – all networking groups are different, whether they be on- or offline. Only when you connect in person can you really understand whether the environment – the ‘vibe’ – is right for you and your business.
So, online or in-person networking?
When it comes to deciding between online and in-person networking in the current climate, the first question has to be how you feel about getting out and about? Are you ready to get back to more face to face interaction? Or are do you still feel nervous or reluctant about mixing with others? If the latter, you probably want to stick with online networking for now. But if you’ve missed people, like we at Tabono definitely have, perhaps it’s time to venture to a face to face event?
The other thing to consider is how you feel about the actual concept of networking. Are you someone who naturally likes to ‘work the room’ or does the idea of networking, and talking to others that you don’t know, make you nervous? If you’re the former, you will probably be desperate to get back to in-person events. But if you’re in the latter camp, your natural instinct might be to ‘hide’ behind the computer screen, knowing that you can ‘drop off’ whenever you like.
All of these arguments, the pros and cons, and your individual feelings towards networking are perfectly valid. The key, therefore, and the answer to the original question, is to find a way of networking, and making connections, that works for you.
Networking – The Tabono way
When restrictions started to ease, we thought long and hard about how our events were going to emerge into this new world, and we decided that we would go for a bit of both! We still have two virtual coworking events every month, plus a number of our workshops are delivered online. But we also have a good dose of in-person networking and co-working too, including in a number of new locations! Why? Because we wanted all of our members to be able to access a form of networking that works for them.
And when it comes to how you actually feel about online or in-person networking… if you’re feeling nervous, all you have to do is let us know! We’re not about business card swapping or pressure to present yourself and your business in a certain way. Tabono’s focus is on supporting you, the business owner – and so we can even meet you at the (physical or virtual) door, and make sure you never feel on your own.
Networking with Tabono – a bit of online, a bit of in-person. But most importantly, networking that works for you.