I recently attended a travel bloggers conference, Travel Blog Exchange (or TBEX, for short).  Kim Mance started the group, originally as just a get-together over drinks to two years later an event with over 300 people.  Despite an awful lot of technical snafus and hiccups, it was a great event.  Why?

Because it brilliantly illustrates one of the most important concepts any small business owner or entrepreneur should know.

Relationships have been the currency of business success since, oh, the beginning of time.*

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Relationships Online

There is plenty of talk about relationships in the new media and social media world.  That’s because there is a fallacy in assuming that someone with 10,000 Twitter followers or 5,000 Facebook friends or the elusive “500+” icon on their LinkedIn profile means that person has a lot of relationships.

But that isn’t true.  Stop and ask yourself, how well do you really know each of your Twitter followers?  Now, go and find a travel blogger that went to TBEX and ask them how well they know the people they met at TBEX?  The difference is startling.

Why You Need the Real World

As human beings, we crave social interaction, and new media has given us such amazing platforms to connect with like-minded people.  But social media only goes so far.  If you really want to build relationships with people, you need to look into their eyes, you need to shake their hand, and you need to hear their voice in person.  The digital age has come a long way, but it will never replace the nuances of social interaction.

I’ve met amazing people at all of the conferences I’ve been to this year.  Those relationships are far more valuable than any information I could get at the conferences (as a matter of fact – most of the time the conferences aren’t sharing advanced tactics, at least advanced enough for me).  As one of my favourite meeting-in-real-life-finally TBEX attendees, Evelyn Hannon, said:

One TBEX hug is worth far more than a thousand Retweets.

I couldn’t agree more.

My Challenge To You

If you run a small business, the social interaction is a key part of your success.  I challenge you to find more social interaction in your life and business.

  • Locally:  Find some groups or networks of like minded people in your area to meet and network with. Maybe you only have one choice, or maybe you can find two or three and try them to see what you think is a good fit.
  • In Your Niche: Find organisations or conferences in your niche (go as deep and narrow as you can) where you can network with like-minded people

Meet people.  In real life.  It’s good for you, and it’s good for business.

*Disclosure:  I wasn’t around at the beginning of time.  And it’s actually the frontal lobe of our brain that controls our need for social interaction and its affect on our judgements.  Thus technically, at the beginning of time, humans didn’t care about community that much, they just wanted to survive.  But let’s focus on the now, k?

* PS:  I’d love to have named and called out all of the awesome and amazing people I met at TBEX.  But there are just too many of you AWESOME people.  Sorry 🙂