The Inhumanity of Virtual Networking

The Inhumanity of Virtual Networking by Aimee B. Davis

{3:30 minutes to read}  As a corporate transactional attorney for the past 24 years, I think it’s fair to describe myself as a senior statesperson in the NYC business world. I’ve been at it so long I don’t remember who taught me the value of returning phone calls on a same-day basis.  Nevertheless, this good business practice persisted into the digital age, and I make an effort to respond to emails similarly.

In my May 2018 blog, I attributed these good business habits to my training in Big Law. But, it wasn’t until going solo that I began thinking about the importance of face-to-face meetings in maintaining client relationships. In my experience, face-to-face meetings with colleagues and referral sources are also essential for establishing professional connections based on trust and mutual respect.

Are You Someone Who Consistently Shows Up?

In developing any relationship, reliability and trustworthiness are first demonstrated at the outset, and showing up is a key component for success. But not everyone does this.

Do you show up and are you on time?

I was reminded of the connection between consistency and success by a fellow solo, Eldonie Mason, who in her recent newsletter entitled Success Requires Showing Up wrote: “In order to be successful, you must continue to show up…One thing that has remained constant is, I continue to show up even when I don’t feel like it.”

Consistently showing up for networking can be challenging. Recently, there has been a surge of virtual networking groups (“VNG”), so I began wondering:

Can meaningful connections of mutual trust and respect be created virtually?

Since the bar to entry is low, I’m not convinced that reliability and trust can be easily established by participation in VNG. It doesn’t take a great deal of effort or commitment to join an online networking meeting. You don’t get a sense of a person’s demeanor through an online chatroom. You can’t perceive the impact of your words on your audience. Without these elements, can a VNG really be considered a community?

In my opinion, we need less social media and living in the virtual world. Without real life, human interactions, the picture and our perceptions are flat. Our interactions are simply words on a page devoid of emotion, feeling, and a sense of responsibility for their impact. Although we are more (digitally) connected today than ever before, we tend to feel more isolated and long to be “seen.” I fear that in the digital age, we are becoming desensitized, losing touch with humanity and our ability to feel empathy and sympathy.

But there’s hope…

I recently met with a relationship manager at Chase. He literally “Chased” me for 3 months insisting we meet in person. His tenacity in following through with this meeting made a huge impact on me. He showed me that he is rooted in the same core values that I believe are fundamental to success. This awareness led me to introduce him to yet another professional, thus spreading the networking love the Brooklyn way!

Aimee B. Davis Law P.C. is committed to advising its clients and resolving issues relating to the legal and business matters that are important to them. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at (917) 617-2243 or email aimee@aimeebdavis.com.
Aimee B. Davis

Aimee B. Davis
Aimee B. Davis Law P.C.
122 Ashland Place
Brooklyn, NY 11201
www.aimeebdavis.com
aimee@aimeebdavis.com

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4 Responses to The Inhumanity of Virtual Networking

  1. Dear Aimee, I love this article!! I could not agree more. I would add that in the past I spent $6,000.00 and untold hours trying to improve my websites position via SEO marketing ( I am a dual professional CPA., Attorney) with very little to show for it. I did get a few clients most notably one who asked me to represent him in his tax troubles. I took a retainer of 5K or so and wound up settling on favorable terms but the client is/was a lowlife and I had the feeling he had not learned from his troubles and would soon be in trouble again.
    I shy away from most marketing now which is mostly unproductive. I would add tht I hve done BNI too the Ivan MEissner started networking group. MY sales pitch has always been that by hiring me in either capacity you get two skills for the price of one .
    BNI wants to maximiaze member referralls so this approach was problematic for them. IT can work if fyou are selling something simple to understand i.e florist, mortgage broker etc but does not work so well for skilled professionals.

  2. Dear Aimee, I love this article!! I could not agree more. I would add that in the past I spent $6,000.00 and untold hours trying to improve my websites position via SEO marketing ( I am a dual professional CPA., Attorney) with very little to show for it. I did get a few clients most notably one who asked me to represent him in his tax troubles. I took a retainer of 5K or so and wound up settling on favorable terms but the client is/was a lowlife and I had the feeling he had not learned from his troubles and would soon be in trouble again.
    I shy away from most marketing now which is mostly unproductive. I would add tht I hve done BNI too the Ivan MEissner started networking group. MY sales pitch has always been that by hiring me in either capacity you get two skills for the price of one .
    BNI wants to maximiaze member referralls so this approach was problematic for them. IT can work if fyou are selling something simple to understand i.e florist, mortgage broker etc but does not work so well for skilled professionals.

  3. Aimee, I like where you’re going with this because my practice is about building bonds and bridges. However, there are times when geography, physical issues, or weather makes face to face networking difficult. I find that using a platform like ZOOM helps if everyone uses their camera. Yes, if there are more than two of you, it can look like the beginning of “The Brady Bunch” or “Hollywood Squares” for those of us who are familiar with these shows, but you can see people’s reactions, movements, and faces. It’s not the same as face to face at making connections in building relationships, but it’s better than strict email or a group conference call. (There are always anomalies, though. I coauthored a book for new leaders, “Leadership in Wonderland” with a person I’ve never physically met, who lives in Missouri, and we did it via Skype without cameras.)

  4. Peter says:

    Nice article Aimee! Having four kids under 17 I see a major paradigm shift in interpersonal behavior. Not sure the next gen will care whether they spend time in front of clients/colleagues due to the convenience of tech, hassle of travel/commuting, and lack of interpersonal skills due to inexperience. PR

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