By Jaime Westman

Old-school networking involves meeting and greeting, attending civic events, phone calls, doing lunch, joining organizations, volunteering and, in general, shaking hands and kissing babies.

Social networking is electronically showcasing your brand, promoting your skills, advertising events and open houses, broadening your reach, driving traffic to your websites and allowing prospects and clients to easily discover you and offer instant feedback.

So what works best? While we’re rapidly moving toward much of our business being handled through social media and the like, disregarding the importance of face time and a personal touch could prove to be problematic. When done correctly, a melding of the two practices can be seamless and efficient. And that’s what we all want, right?

It doesn’t seem that long ago when similar questions were being asked about cars and planes, radio and TV, e-mail and snail mail, desktop computers and laptops. Everything progresses, and while the latest form of travel, viewing, communicating and mobility grabs the lion’s share of attention, they shouldn’t and often don’t totally wipe out the preceding way of doing things. Some people would rather go to the bank instead of handling their transactions online, just as some of your clients would appreciate phone calls and sit-down meetings instead of only e-mails and videos. So it’s great to be proficient at both forms of doing business.

As each new option emerges, we owe it to our clients to examine if and how it can contribute to the marketing mix. No matter which way you lean, some basics will always apply, such as knowing your audience, being clear on your objectives, understanding what each type of media does best, developing a plan that takes advantage of those strengths and implementing it with creativity and consistency.

With that last word (consistency) in mind, it’s important to be committed to your plan before starting. That includes knowing your budget constraints and being sure that you’re reaching the right people. Social media has enhanced marketing efforts immensely by increasing our exposure to potential clients. But for it to be effective it must be an intentional blending of online and offline tools and tactics around a singular strategy.

If you need help getting started and figuring things out, start Googling and discover a wealth of integration ideas online. Or pick up the phone and call someone you know who is knowledgeable about this stuff and meet for coffee or lunch. The great thing is … both methods should work! So why not implement a mixed marketing strategy today?

Find us on Google+