Social media helps us to greatly expand our reach. Through Web 2.0 tools, we can connect with professionals who we might not otherwise come in contact with (because of geographic distance or simply because we travel in different circles) and communicate with them over time.
But connecting through LinkedIn, through a LinkedIn group, through Twitter or through any other social network is no substitute for in-person (or telephone) contact.
In other words, although social media has given us a host of new communication channels, it supplements, not replaces, the traditional way of doing business.
“Three Cups of Tea” (a new book by a mountain climber who strayed into a remote Pakistani village in 1993 and since then, has built 55 schools) highlights the importance of building the relationship in person. I heard an interview with the author on WBUR the other day (my local public radio station), and realized that in many ways, business has always been based on relationships and will always be.
Here (in Pakistan and Afghanistan), we drink three cups of tea to do business; the first you are a stranger, the second you become a friend, and the third, you join our family, and for our family, we are prepared to do anything–even die.