Beyond the Build

Customer Relationships

Networking Isn’t All About the (Inter)Net

Thanks to computers, smart phones and the Web, we as a society have never been more connected. I can send detailed information to multiple clients within a matter of seconds, and stay constantly updated on everything that is happening with the company and in the industry.

Yet, sometimes I think that we as individuals have never been more separated. It is now possible to conduct some types of business completely through e-mail, eliminating the need for face-to-face or even voice-to-voice contact. With Web 2.0 and other social media outlets, we can publicize the company and find new work opportunities without ever truly meeting people.

While I certainly put all these electronic tools to use, I feel that there is still an important place in the business community for in-person networking. I can post information on the Web and use everything social media has to offer, but at the end of the day there remains, for me, a need for personal interaction to make a true connect.

Old-fashioned networking is a good place to begin building a business relationship. In fact, I make it a point to continue dialing the phone and getting together with clients when we can. I wish to remember there is a person behind the email notifications. Hopefully the effect is shared.

Please don’t misunderstand. I think social media is an invaluable tool, but I feel it is important to use a combination of new communication methods and the tried and true. Regardless of how much can be accomplished with a few keystrokes, sometimes it’s not as valuable as a single handshake.

Merrill Stewart Jr.

Merrill Stewart is Founder and CEO of The Stewart/Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham.