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Talk to Strangers: How Everyday, Random Encounters Can Expand Your Business, Career, Income, and Life by David Topus

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Chapter 5

The Limits of Online Connections

The Internet and social media have presented new and seemingly unlimited opportunities for expanding our networks. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, not to mention all the online tools yet to be invented, are in many ways redefining the way we interact and socialize. With the push of a button, you can add dozens, even hundreds, of names to your contact base. And for sure, those names represent opportunities you can uncover—some directly; some indirectly. Yet nothing will ever beat sharing physical space, shaking a hand, and looking someone in the eye when it comes to creating and cultivating quality relationships. As Warren Buffet, the icon of business and investor success, asks in his ad for the National Business Aviation Association, “Ever give a firm handshake over a speakerphone?” He would likely ask the same question in the context of the Internet.

For better or worse, depending on your perspective, Facebook has redefined the word friend, and LinkedIn has recast the word connection. To me, a friend is someone who will be there for you any time, all the time, someone who knows you well and whom you know. There is a level of trust that permeates a friendship. You have a history with a friend, where time and personal sharing build mutual experiences that form the foundation of the relationship.

LinkedIn has made connections a numbers game, sometimes with little regard for relevance, influence, or the quality of the contact. It’s a contest ...

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