The pandemic proved a turning point for many businesses, with a switch to virtual meetings rather than face-to-face contact a key cultural change for many. Even now, without restrictions or fear, a large proportion of businesses are still conducting the majority of their engagements online.
According to a study by Forbes Insight, 85% of people say they build stronger, more meaningful relationships during in person meetings and conferences. So, while Zoom meetings and Teams calls certainly offer time and cost savings as well as convenience, the value of in person networking should never be overlooked or forgotten. Let’s explore why:
- Bond over a brew – Face-to-face networking is a chance for professionals to get together for a tea or coffee and enjoy a chit chat and a biscuit before getting down to business. Don’t underestimate the power of small talk! It breaks the ice and allows you to introduce yourself to new people and open a dialogue. Meeting in person also allows more of an opportunity to let personalities shine through. This can help you decide whether someone is the right fit for your business, or not.
- Read the room – In person networking increases visibility. Being present in a room together allows you to better connect with body language, mannerisms and eye contact, unlike when you talk online. This helps to create more genuine relationships – an essential when you want to build new contacts.
- Lost in translation – Similarly to when we use written text rather than speech, misunderstandings and misinterpretations can occur when we talk online. Internet speeds can cause delays, sound quality might be iffy or background noises too loud. For whatever reason, sometimes it’s hard to tune into others when communicating via the computer.
- See it as an investment – Obviously, if you need to meet with someone in Scotland and you’re based in Cornwall, a Teams call makes sense. But for chances to connect closer to home, investing in transport costs, possibly accommodation and of course your time, can be worthwhile. Expenses disbursed here can be more than made up for if you convert a lead into a deal.
To conclude, spending time with potential contacts can ignite the growth your business needs. Face-to-face networking is your chance to make a good impression and open up new pathways. Yes, we often rely on e-communication to pass information back and forth, but there really is no cyber-substitute for taking the time to meet with like-minded people and socialise in person, like we have been doing for centuries!