[IMGCAP(1)]The formal business dinner is slowly dying. For me, it’s already dead. We live in a world where we’re connected 24/7 and can easily build relationships online before we even meet a business colleague in-person. The ability to foster relationships via social media eliminates the need for initial formalities, and allows us to move into face-to-face meetings with a sense of familiarity and comfort. It’s awesome! In fact, I can confidently say that I’ve moved beyond work-life balance to a comfortable work-life blend.

Let me explain my “blend” philosophy further. A recent “business dinner” with a peer not only included him and myself, but our spouses and kids. We sat comfortably; two CEOs discussing strategies to get old-school CPAs to implement change and avoid becoming obsolete. At the same time, my ten-year-old son played on his iPad and my twelve-year-old daughter discussed her satisfaction with being able to order chicken fingers at a fancy restaurant.

While I have met with this particular colleague in person on several occasions (trade shows, conferences, etc.), our relationship has progressively flourished and become more personal via ongoing social media interaction—including Facebook, Twitter and blogs. There is no better way to get to know someone on a personal level then to keep up with their Facebook posts! Through this type of activity, our relationship has reached the level of transparency…which allowed for an easy blending of our personal and professional lives during our “formal” business dinner.

People are always asking me how social media has affected my firm. My standard response is that it has made my business more personal. The 24/7 connection and ease of relationship building has leveled the playing field. Big fancy gatherings are no longer required. The need for costly memberships? Gone!

I’ve always been a fan of the golf/conference room analogy—you know…how the deal really gets done on the course. I think the same is true of social media. The personal, online approach to building relationships works. Being “friends” with business associates allows you to learn a great deal about them before entering into business transactions or partnerships. It has also enabled me to accomplish true work-life blend—which is exactly the way I like it.

Jody L. Padar, CPA, MST, is a Certified Public Accountant experienced with Complex Federal & State Income Tax Compliance for Business & Individuals. Jody is an adjunct professor at Oakton Community College, where she teaches Taxation and QuickBooks Courses. She is part of Intuit Trainer Writer Network and speaks nationally on various Technologies and Taxation. She can be reached at www.newvisioncpagroup.com.