Before the Internet came along the business and social term "networking" meant getting together with people at an event, party, or other activity where you could meet people you didn't already know.
Today, the term "social networking" has become popular with the buzzword creators to include online relationships with people we never meet face-to-face.
Every day each of us has a limited amount of time to grow our network. So, it's important to decide how to balance our time between online networking and face-to-face networking opportunities.
Ever since discussion groups became popular, individuals have been forming online relationships and sharing information about experiences. Throughout the '90s I was involved in many online discussion groups, especially those dealing with marketing.
Today, the discussion mailing lists and Web forums have been joined by blogs, project collaboration Web sites, and the social networking connection Web sites.
I've met a tremendous number of people online over the past 15 years. What has surprised me is that it's the people I have also meet face-to-face who have become part of my network of long-term relationships.
Why is it that e-mail and other online communications cannot replace face-to-face interaction for creating strong, long-term relationships?
It seems that as beneficial as online relationships are, sharing information about experiences is not the same as actually sharing the experience face-to-face with another person.