I can feel people around the globe being angered by this concept, but hear me out.

The digital revolution is here. Information, education and people are more accessible than ever, making the world a far smaller place.

Why limit ourselves to who we can meet in person?
Human relationships will always be the epicenter of business, but is this thinking limiting our impact?

Here are the five reasons I believe digital connections are more powerful than human ones:

1.       Longevity– staying connected with everyone in our lives is hard work, but social media platforms allow you to communicate and learn consistently. Stay relevant and involved with your network long term through images, video and real-time communication.
2.       Courting – getting to know someone and building rapport can be done through digital interaction (and I don’t just mean dating sites). Understanding people, their personality, interests, history, intelligence and even sense of humour can be explored via social media. This can happen well before you meet an individual, fast tracking relationships well before a handshake.
3.       Thought leadership– when you meet someone face to face you have a finite time to build rapport. Can you truly seek to understand their story in a crowded room? Have you researched who to approach or just taking a guess? Wouldn’t it be better if they had been reading your content and you theirs? Social allows you to ask questions, interact and observe people strategically well before meeting them. A digital reputation goes a long way, people are always watching.
4.       Social currency– is a real thing. It can be built strategically over time. The more digitally connected you are the more value you have as an employee or business contact. We all like spending time with well-connected people, but social amplifies the size and quality of traditional networks. Your social currency will become more and more relevant in our digitally savvy society. At wattsnext we pay employees more that have strong, active digital footprints. Your social currency is tangible and real.
5.       Global connection– You can’t attend every conference in every country, every time! But you can connect, learn and digitally network  globally. And you can do this 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with relevant people all across the world. No longer do you need to physically attend learning events, conferences and industry gatherings in person. You can learn, interact and build relationships anywhere and at any time.

Myself and four of the wattsnext team have just attended the world’s largest human resources conference SHRM 2016 in Washington DC. The five wattsnext attendees had a combined digital footprint in excess of 50,000. We had started interacting lightly with the conference hashtag (#SHRM16) a couple of months prior to the event and started virtually meeting some of the exhibitors and delegates.

At the conference we had people from all corners of the globe go out of their way to introduce themselves in person. On occasions people lined up to talk to us, patiently waiting so they could make themselves known.

Social media introductions driving human connections.

True human connections across not only in America, but across all corners of the globe.

No awkward cold conference networking. Just warm proactive, meaningful interactions that will continue to develop for years to come!

I don’t suggest you lock your sales and marketing employees in a dark room with good internet connections. Although this will likely result in better results than traditional networking on its own…..

By 2020 Millennials will occupy 75% of our workforce and rest assured social media will be integrated into all business functions.

Social media connections are powerful, they amplify your brand, your message and your network.

Don’t limit your audience, blend social connection with human interaction and reap the rewards.

Author: Ben Watts
Ben is a veteran in the HR space- a forward-thinking leader specialising in functional business structures and people performance techniques. With twenty years’ experience managing large ASX listed corporates across multiple industries, Ben adds depth and expertise to our clients' strategy solutions, genuinely providing a commercial result for their investment.