The balance between face-to-face interactions and other fast, easy ways to communicate with many people at the same time is in question. Today’s technology offers options never before possible like mass email messages, Facebook alerts, Twitter feeds and even meetings over personal computers. How do you measure the impact of fast and easy versus the importance of in-person contact?
Crowne Plaza Hotels and Resorts recently surveyed over 2000 business professionals in five countries to get their opinions on various methods of networking. As might be expected, 81% of respondents believe face-to-face meetings are better for building long-term trust and ensuring strong client relationships. Forty-seven percent of respondents actually believe they’ve lost a contract or client due to lack of in-person time to develop relationships.
The main advantages of in-person meetings are pretty straight-forward. Building trust and relationships are easier when you can meet and get to know people. Engagement is higher because communication can be more spontaneous and collaborative. The synergy built when people are present in the same room is much stronger than over a conference call.
Does all this mean using technology and not meeting in-person is a bad idea? Not necessarily. If you can figure out that balance of time with participants or clients, the door is open to many creative ways to get buy-in and move forward. The tipping point is likely being able to get full participation and genuine understanding of the discussion with everyone involved. It’s easy to get sidetracked with other activities if you are not physically present with each other.
Bottom line: try several methods of communication. Just don’t forget that growing you networks will likely need some face-to-face time for relationships to gel.