Social media and other types of online networking have revolutionized business. You can connect with customers, clients and partners half way around the world.
But are there times when face to face, or as they are sometimes called, belly to belly meetings are still beneficial?
You bet, say members of the small business community.
Face to Face Meetings Accelerate Networking
First, career transition consultant and brand strategist Deborah Shane insists meeting people face to face accelerates the networking process.
In 10 minutes I can learn more about someone, and they about me, in person than in six months online!
Plus Shane insists face to face meetings and online networking can work together. Each can drive the other strengthening the connection with someone you may have only known superficially.
If I meet you online and strike up an online relationship that has value and interest to me, then taking it offline is going to enhance that relationship and help it progress. If we meet in person, then staying connected online is going to enhance our relationship and help it progress until we meet in person again.
Meeting in Person Gives You a Broader Perspective
In addition, Shane says she can gain a broader perspective of a person when meeting face to face.
For example, a face to face conversation might more quickly help you and a person you are networking with find common ground as opposed to, say, liking their Facebook page.
Do you have common interests, hobbies, favorite books, shared peers, or even common life experiences? You could eventually find this out from having a look at favorite sites, shared connections or even a book review or personal anecdote posted on a blog.
But none of this is likely to happen as quickly as it will if you spend time just talking over lunch.
You can also put a plan in place to work together, finalize a course of action or decide on the next step in your business in only minutes in a face to face meeting, Shane said.
Face to Face Meetings Command our Full Attention
In the age of multitasking, social communication and even important business email is likely to be happening at the same time we’re proofreading the latest blog post, listening to a podcast, watching part of a video, etc.
This is another reason face to face meetings are still important, writes Rieva Lesonsky, quoting from research on the subject.
Multitasking makes it unlikely we will have long term memory of the things we see and hear. Face to face events on the other hand stimulate our cognitive functions resulting in greater open mindedness and creativity, Lesonsky writes.
Meeting in Person Engages the Emotions
Apparently, the most important thing brands want from social engagement — a “positive emotional experience” — can only be achieved face to face. Lesonky explains:
An event that involves interacting with other people in the flesh creates a positive emotional experience. Those positive emotions become attached to the companies involved in the event, as well as contributing to make attendees more open to new experiences.
If this is the reaction you want from those with whom you network, a “like” on Facebook may not be enough.
Face to Face Meeting Build Trust
But ultimately, the most important reason face to face meetings remain important is the trust factor.
According to the data, you can share information virtually, Lesonky explains. But building relationships requires closer interaction. Research shows relationships built face to face are stronger, Lesonky reports.
If this is the goal of your networking activities — and it certainly should be — then face to face meetings become even more important.
Face to Face Photo via Shutterstock