5 Benefits of Face-to-Face Networking
Whilst we digitise more of our everyday communications, the idea of face-to-face networking can be daunting. As technology becomes ever smarter and efficient at ensuring we’re connected all the time, it’s odd that actually making a real connection with a real person strikes fear into the heart of many. Not that there is anything wrong with connecting online, in fact such digital connections have impressive power to nurture and grow businesses (the irony of this being posted online is not lost on us). However, following our growing attendance at the networking events hosted by Norfolk Chamber of Commerce, we reflect on the benefits of unplugging how we connect once in a while. Here are our ‘5 Benefits of Face-to-Face Networking’...
As with so many things, sometimes it’s not what you do, but how you do it…or in this case, say it. All too often messages shared online can be lost in translation. Unless you are a real Hemmingway of the web, messages shared in person tend to incorporate voice, body language, facial expressions and add much greater depth to what is being said. In turn this depth is communicated in your brand and how your business is perceived by others as more interesting, more genuine…and more human.
Digital marketing and the use of social media have been transformative tools in business interaction. However for most of us, business does not only exist in a vast online universe, it has to come back down to earth, with physical interactions important to get right. By networking face-to-face you are able to show off your personality that could otherwise struggle to breathe in the online vacuum, developing communication skills key to business growth. As a result, face to face networking goes hand in hand with a joined up online & offline approach to networking, marketing and even general communications.
During a conversation, you can tailor your message to an individual or group and receive feedback immediately. What you say to one person or group, may be very different to how you engage with another. Often within digital marketing, such as emails and social media, the same message can go out to everyone, whereas when you are face-to-face with potential clients and collaborators, you can tailor your message. You are able to respond to the feedback, be it verbal or indeed non-verbal in real-time. Not only does this make discussions faster, but often results in those involved feeling more valued too.
Once you have used the character of face-to-face networking to your advantage by showing off your glowing personality, communicating a deeper brand identity and perhaps shovelling warm pastries and coffee into your face…get digital. You’ve broken the ice and made a connection or two, and can add to your online profiles to continue the conversation online. There is the added benefit of bringing together the greater intimacy achieved in a face-to-face introductions with the ease of further communication online nurturing your new contact, even if you do not see them again in person.
Like. Retweet. Share. Repeat.
Sound familiar? Often this can be the level at which online engagement remains, and it can be handy. However people we meet and form bonds with in person will reliably yield working relationships with greater longevity and robustness to stand the test of time. It can also be hard to hear a genuine voice in an online sea of likes, thumbs up and tags that would drown out even the most booming voice. Why only fight for a quantity of attention online, when you can have the quality face-to-face attention that could put you ahead of competition who don’t unplug from time to time?
So there you have it, our ‘5 Benefits of Face-to-Face Networking’, we hoped you enjoyed reading. As Angela Ahrendts, Senior Vice President of Retail at Apple once said ‘It's no longer possible to think of the physical and digital as two different worlds’…so don’t.