It's like becoming a professional juggler. They all started out with the basic three balls. Then when they have perfected that simple foundation, they add chainsaws and flaming torches. That's the icing on the cake, but they never abandon the basics.
Here are some tips for adding social media to your networking strategy while keeping touch with the real world:
- Don't get into social media until and unless you feel comfortable meeting new people in the offline world. It could become too tempting to get online and stay there.
- Some of the basics of real-world networking (find out what you have in common with people, give first, help people get connected, slowly building trust and a reputation) are twice as important in the social media.
- Take it offline as much as possible. It's nice to have Facebook or Twitter contacts, but when push comes to shove (or it's time to do business), real-world friends have the edge.
- Some things are easier online: remembering peoples' names (ha ha), finding out what you have in common (you can skip the small talk), and keeping track of each other (just click on their home page).
- Some other not-so-good things are easier too: "tweets" (they are only 140 characters) or emails are more easily misunderstood (causing hurt feelings or worse), it's a lot easier to be ignored, and unfriending or unfollowing is a lot easier to do than to tell someone in person you don't want to spend time with them.