Do we really need a physical place to meet for business connections when we have a place to generate leads on the Internet?
At first I thought having the internet 24/7 and doing business would automatically generate leads for my home based business. Gathering on social networking sites, sharing information, and connecting across the globe with people was exciting. However, I was missing a big element to bring in steady contacts.
Then I realized what was missing was the physical third place that is essential to expand influence for my online business. The third place can be integrated with the virtual place on the internet to generate leads.
What is the “Virtual Place”?
It is an online community of social networking sites and technology that resembles the physical place where people communicate and connect. Most of us are familiar with how Skype, smart phones, tablets, and laptops can be used for global communication and to generate leads for business.
What is the “Third Place”?
Sociologist and author Ray Oldenberg suggests in The Great Good Place, that each of us needs three places. The first place is the home. The second place is the school or workplace. The third place is the place where people celebrate their common interests, diversity and interact from all walks of life. They meet in cafes, diners, coffeehouses, gyms, hair salons, pubs, town squares, community centers, and other gathering places.
Some people who want to be connected to each other in these environments and do not want to be isolated. These third places make the community stronger and bring people together. By interacting with people where they know us by name, it allows us to give value to people and results in lasting success and business growth.
Social networking and the internet is where most people are going for information. I have a home based business and use my smart phone, tablet, and laptop to connect with many social networking sites. But, is the virtual place the most efficient way to generate leads and contacts? I think the internet is great, but limited without seeing people in person.
The third place is where you can connect with people, generate leads, and has these benefits:
- Free or inexpensive
- Food and drink
- Highly accessible – many within walking distance
- Involve regulars – people go there regularly
- Welcoming and comfortable
- New friends and old are there
An example of a place I go to is in a suburb north of Seattle, Washington. It is a third place that was created in a former shopping mall and built around The Third Place Books - a bookstore, community college and a public commons. There are over a thousand public events every year that foster civic life.
As well as the bookstore, this place has a food court, music events, guest speakers, book readings, and group get-togethers. People meet in groups to play games, knit and crochet, do wine tasting, take food classes, have book discussion groups and more. I can participate in a group, or take my laptop, hook up to the internet, and work on my business, and even meet people for appointments. I can take a break and listen to live music, just relax, have a cup of coffee or tea, eat, visit, read, or just hang out in the community. It is a warm, friendly, and welcoming place. There is also a bakery with caramel coconut cake…yum…certainly a distraction.
The value of the virtual place:
In social networking communities there are people with similar personal and business interests and activities like emailing, instant messaging, blogging, and posting pictures with regularity. Social networking is a powerful way millions of people daily communicate information and is here to stay.
Google+ and Facebook are widely used in North America and are based on trust. These places have no cost for membership, have online marketplaces, and connections to other businesses, such as LinkedIn.
With social networking you decide where your community of contacts will come from on an ongoing basis. They will get to know you and trust you. Value is created as you share information with your community. You build your business as these contacts are attracted to what you have to offer and you will make money with less effort on your part. The millions of people who communicate daily on the internet make social networking a powerful tool.
Below is an example of what can happen if you spend a “wee” little bit of time linking your sites together while you are communicating on your Social sites.
Link your Blog to your social networking sites:
Facebook —> Blog —> Google+ —> Blog
The results you get are an audience that follow you as you are actively participating in these social networking sites. Monetary success happens faster with the integration of the internet, in person, and social networking.
My belief is that we need a mix of both a virtual online presence for social media marketing and a physical third place to generate leads for our business.