Despite being  a bit of a night owl and not such a great morning person, I still rise early on occasion to participate in breakfast networking or indeed forgo personal time to attend evening business events. This morning I was at the monthly meeting of The Business Network Banbridge and tomorrow I’ll be at an event hosted by Newry Junior Chamber called ‘April Fools Day but No Fool in Business’.  I am a member of both organisations.

Often I go to morning and evening networking events feeling tired, yet I rarely leave one without feeling energised and positive about the experience, and despite being primarily a ‘digital marketer’, I also love to connect with people face to face. Experience has shown me that offline networking can have a positive impact on online engagement. Let me explain.

Facial & Brand Recognition

As we scroll down our news feeds every day on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or on other social networking sites, posts catch our eye – for effective online marketing good headlines and images aid post engagement but when I also recognise a familiar face or brand, I’m often compelled to stop and see what he or she has to say.  And who are these familiar faces?

Often they are people I meet and converse with regularly offline – there’s Barry Adams for expert advice on SEO, Eve Earley & Martin Gilchrist’s event updates, personal stories from Drew McWilliams about the latest family portraits he’s photographed, Garry MacDonald’s cyber security tips, Stephen Brown’s team building adventures from jumping off cliffs to walking on broken glass and hot coals and details of Digital DNA’s upcoming digital marketing conferences in NI. These and so many more people and brands catch my eye on a regular basis.  Don’t underestimate the power of a familiar face!

Deeper Brand Knowledge

Having these multiple opportunities to converse with my connections online and offline, I learn so much more about them and quickly – from their skills and experience, ethics and eccentricities to their personal life and hobbies – all the things that ‘make them tick’.  These connections rise considerably above many other connections in my credibility algorithm.

Networking offline is like Content Marketing or Search Engine Optimisation – a long-term commitment that isn’t about instant gratification but developing lasting relationships and results over time.  When I develop a deeper understanding of an individual or brand I am more likely to engage with their content online with a like, comment, or share, as well as mentioning or referring them in offline conversations.

The Added Value Effect

The people I meet offline often add so much value to my network for a number of reasons – we share experiences, we learn from each other, they provide tips and advice that save me time, and they are like-minded individuals.  People who make the time to attend networking events are typically committed to succeeding in their own businesses, are passionate about what they do and have stories they want to share.  These are the type of people I want to meet, connect with, do business with and encourage others to do business with. When their content crosses my path online, the expectation of value makes me stop scrolling and start reading and engaging with the content.

I’ve met many interesting people online and offline and continue to develop these relationships in both ways.  If you engage with your audiences offline – sharing quality content of course – I am confident that the positive impact on your online engagement will be only a fraction of the positive knock-on impacts and the tangible Return on Investment (ROI) you will experience.