Back to school...
Someone will always steer an employer towards a candidate that they know personally over one that they just know online.
Well, I think that statement would need a ton of qualification before I said "I can agree with that". (as an aside, I have a saying I put in my seminars from time to time - it goes:
Never say Never
Never say Always
I Always say...
so statements that include always or never - beware of them)
I personally "know" of many people I would recommend without reservation - that I have never met. I personally know of many people I have had face to face contact with - that I would not recommend.
Now, if all other things were equal - if I considered both candidates "equal" technically speaking - but I had met one of them face to face, knew them from meeting with them - that would give them an edge (or not actually, think about it, they might have turned me off in person). That steering statement above might be true in this special case - but only because I have more information about one of them than the other.
On the other hand if the "electronically socially networked" person outshone the person I knew in the flesh in the area the job was to be in - I would likely recommend the person I had not met - with the caveat that you have to interview them and make sure you like them (but that would be true about the candidate I met face to face).
The other point I think they might be missing out on is that online you can network with a much larger congregation of people than you can in real life - from all over the place. I don't mean just on linkedin (it took forever but I finally got out of linkedin, ugh) - I mean in forums, industry special areas, special interest places. You never know who you are going to meet there or what they might be able to do for you sometime in the future (and vice versa of course). You are establishing your reputation in a large forum, documented, there forever (so be careful how you act!!)
And - over time - you might find you get to meet many of these people you only know from the online world. I have, many times. And I am quite sure that if I hadn't been involved in the online community - I would not have met them (nor would I be doing day to day what I do!!!).
When you do meet these people face to face, one of two things becomes apparent every time, either
- They are exactly like what you thought they would be
- They are nothing like what you expected
And for #2, one of two things can come from that - either you like them better than you did before, or you decide you didn't really like them after all.
In my experience, the former happens much more than the latter - but it is a function of the company you keep.
In short, all networking is relevant. None of it is "better" or infinitely "superior" to another.