The digital business arena certainly has its benefits. It’s quick, convenient, and universally accessible, and let’s face it: it’s where trends are happening. While online networking is a big part of relationship-building nowadays, it’s far from the whole picture. Face-to-face interaction still offers a host of real, unique advantages – which businesses shouldn’t be too quick to dismiss.
Why is face-to-face business networking important?
At our roots, humans are still social beings. The trust and momentum behind strong business relationships springs from sharing a real, physical presence – and that’s something the most dynamic online conversations can’t provide. Even video networking, which conveys subtle cues like body language, voice tone, and facial expressions, can’t simulate the reassuring grip of a confident handshake, or the positive energy of experiences, values, and interests shared face to face. These things can only unfold by interacting in person. Because of that exclusive context, live networking can be a valuable opportunity to help keep your business a step ahead of the game.
So what are the benefits of networking in person?
- Recognition. Face-to-face networking creates a memorable, personal impression that you can follow up later. It also lets online acquaintances put a face with your name, and helps them become familiar with your business as a “living” organization – i.e., through the real actions and values you embody, not just the professional content you share online.
- Leads. Personal networking events are a great way to discover potential new clients, supporters, or partners who may not be involved in your online circles. Plus, by taking a genuine interest in others, you’re positioning yourself as a valuable resource. Even if a new contact isn’t an ideal prospect for your line of work, they can still refer you to others later on who may be.
- Information. There’s nothing like professional mingling to keep up with the latest news and market trends. Networking in person can also give you the inside scoop on upcoming events or chances to recruit new talent – or even help you get your foot in the door when new projects or initiatives are on the horizon.
- Acquaintances. When it comes to meeting important industry players, being introduced in person goes miles beyond a cold call or email. What’s more, face-to-face networking lets you follow up on relationships started online, which builds trust and creates a more positive, productive rapport for the future. Before heading to your next in-person networking event, consider doing some research beforehand to see who’ll be attending. And if you don’t recognize many names on the list, go anyway. You’ll likely meet more people with similar values at a live event than you would online.
- Inspiration. People tend to say different things in person than they do online. Face-to-face business conversations can spark new ideas and perspectives, and open up new doors. They can also unearth background information that’s important to making smart business decisions, such as whom to work with on a new project or how to better understand your competitors.
- Crisis management. Most people have talked their way through a problem at one point or another. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, more than 850 surveyed business leaders listed more efficient problem-solving as their number-one motivation for face-to-face interaction. When time is of the essence – as it is during business challenges – personal discussion can lead to a faster, more productive solution than online correspondence.
Networking in person sometimes demands a bit of effort. After all, it involves time and physical investment, and perhaps even a slight risk. In the long run, though, face-to-face business interactions help build stronger, more productive, and more mutually beneficial business relationships. And remember: professional networking isn’t limited to formal business events. Just interacting in person – at dinners, social events, or even in elevators – can open up positive new business opportunities.
Looking for a chance to meet other local professionals? Come join Pulse Marketing Agency at the Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce Business After Hours – next Thursday, February 13, from 5-7 PM. We’ll be hosting the event right here in our Exchange Street suite, so stop by to enjoy good food, prizes, and of course, great networking.