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Beyond the Screen: How to Expand Your Network and Build Meaningful Relationships in Person

In today’s digital age, it’s common to see people glued to their screens, scrolling through social media feeds or responding to emails. While digital communication has made it easier to connect with others, it can’t replace the value of in-person interactions. Building meaningful relationships in person is essential for personal and professional growth. It opens up networking opportunities, helps you learn from others, and provides a sense of community. In this article, we’ll explore the benefits of face-to-face networking, share tips for making the most of networking events, and offer advice on how to follow up and maintain relationships after the event is over.

The importance of building in-person relationships

Human beings are social creatures. We thrive on connections with others, and in-person interactions can provide a sense of validation and support that is difficult to achieve through digital communication. In-person relationships allow us to build trust, develop empathy, and create a sense of camaraderie. It’s easier to build a rapport with someone when we can see their facial expressions, hear their tone of voice, and observe their body language.

Building in-person relationships also has a positive impact on our mental health. Social interaction releases endorphins, which can improve mood and decrease feelings of loneliness. In-person interactions can help us develop a sense of belonging, which is essential for our overall well-being.

The benefits of in-person networking

Networking events provide a platform for building relationships with people who share similar interests or goals. Attending networking events can help you gain new insights, learn about industry trends, and form new partnerships. Networking can also lead to job opportunities, mentorship, and even friendships.

In-person networking provides an opportunity to showcase your personality, skills, and knowledge. It’s easier to get a sense of who someone is when you meet them in person, and this can help build trust and credibility. Building relationships through in-person networking can also lead to referrals and recommendations, which can help you advance in your career.

Overcoming challenges to in-person networking

For some people, the idea of attending a networking event can be daunting. Social anxiety, shyness, and fear of rejection are common challenges that prevent people from networking in person. However, it’s important to remember that many people feel the same way.

One way to overcome these challenges is to practice. Start by attending smaller events and practice introducing yourself to new people. It’s also helpful to set goals for yourself, such as meeting three new people at an event. Bringing a friend or colleague to a networking event can also make it less intimidating.

Another way to overcome challenges to in-person networking is to focus on your strengths. If you’re not comfortable approaching strangers, find other ways to make connections. Participating in group discussions or volunteering for a task can help you connect with others in a less intimidating way.

Finding networking events and opportunities

There are many ways to find networking events and opportunities. Industry conferences, professional organizations, and community events are all great places to start. Social media platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook can also be helpful for finding events and connecting with people in your industry.

When searching for events, it’s important to consider your goals. If you’re looking to learn about industry trends, attending a conference may be the best option. If you’re looking to meet new people in your area, local community events may be more suitable. It’s also important to consider the cost of attending events, as some conferences and networking events can be expensive.

Preparing for a networking event

Preparing for a networking event can help you make the most of your time. Start by researching the event and the people who will be attending. This can help you identify potential contacts and topics of conversation. It’s also helpful to prepare an elevator pitch, which is a brief summary of who you are and what you do.

Dressing appropriately for the event is also important. Consider the dress code and the type of event when choosing your outfit. It’s better to be overdressed than underdressed, as it shows that you take the event seriously.

Approaching and engaging with new contacts

Approaching and engaging with new contacts can be intimidating, but it’s important to remember that everyone is there for the same reason. Start by introducing yourself and asking questions about the other person. This can help break the ice and show that you’re interested in getting to know them.

When engaging in conversation, it’s important to listen actively and ask follow-up questions. This can help keep the conversation flowing and show that you’re engaged. It’s also important to be authentic and genuine. Don’t try to be someone you’re not, as this can come across as insincere.

Building and maintaining relationships

Building and maintaining relationships takes time and effort. After meeting someone at a networking event, it’s important to follow up within a few days. This can be done through email, LinkedIn, or social media.

When following up, it’s important to reference something from your conversation to show that you were paying attention. It’s also helpful to suggest a meeting or phone call to continue the conversation.

Maintaining relationships requires ongoing effort. This can be done through regular check-ins, sharing relevant articles or information, or introducing contacts who may be able to help each other. It’s important to stay engaged and show that you value the relationship.

Following up and staying in touch

Following up and staying in touch can help you build lasting relationships. It’s important to be consistent and genuine in your communication. It’s also important to remember that relationships are a two-way street. Don’t just reach out when you need something.

One way to stay in touch is to schedule regular check-ins. This can be a monthly phone call or coffee meeting. It’s also helpful to remember important dates, such as birthdays or work anniversaries. A simple message or card can go a long way in maintaining a relationship.

Incorporating in-person networking into your overall networking strategy

In-person networking should be a part of your overall networking strategy. While digital communication is convenient, it can’t replace the value of in-person interactions. Plan to attend a certain number of networking events each year and make an effort to meet new people.

It’s also important to remember that networking is not just about getting something from someone. It’s about building relationships and helping others. Be open to opportunities to help others, whether it’s through referrals, introductions, or advice.


In-person networking is essential for personal and professional growth. It provides a platform for building relationships, learning new things, and gaining new opportunities. While it can be intimidating, it’s important to remember that everyone is there for the same reason. By preparing, approaching with authenticity, and following up, you can make the most of networking events and build lasting relationships. So put down your phone and start expanding your network beyond the screen.

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