As you probably know by now, I’m a big proponent of VARs using social networking and social media to build relationships with their customers. More and more, we’re connecting online . However, if you attended a trade show or industry mixer and didn’t see any of your customers there—or even any prospects—you’d probably question why you came. And rightly so. You want to be where your customers are, and be there before your competitors are. Social networking is no different! I had one client tell me that social networking was a waste of time and a distraction. Of course, I showered him with examples that demonstrated otherwise, but he said his vendor wasn’t achieving sales numbers. And so, yes, if your customers aren’t using social media then perhaps he is headed in the wrong direction. But let’s clarify the point. If you’re listening to your customers, both live and online, then you know where they are and hopefully what they are saying about you, the industry, the competition…anything. If you’re not listening, you could be in a lot of trouble. But if you’re listening and not learning and taking that valuable information to create a plan with benchmarks to know the success that you achieved, then yes, maybe social networking is a distraction. Social networking is not about letting fans know how many times your cat meowed today. It’s about listening, learning and doing—knowing where you customers are, what they want and delivering them what they need.