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Face 2 Face Matters, Because You Can’t Shake Hands With A Screen (Phyllis K.)

In today’s social media-focused economy, it’s become increasingly common to have long, complex and lasting business relationships with other people without ever speaking to them face to face—or even on the phone. More of the average business’s sales support, customer service and other customer-facing functions are moving to the Web instead of being handled in person. And with cost-cutting foremost on everyone’s mind, conventions, conferences and meetings are all going virtual as well.

In this environment, you might suppose that there’s no longer much need to meet face to face. Well, you’d be wrong. In-person events are better than virtual events at capturing attendees’ attention, creating positive emotions and building relationships and networks.

Researchers found that face-to-face works best in three situations:

  1. To capture attention, especially if you are launching something new. Attendees at virtual events are more likely to multitask and filter certain information out. “[Multitasking] engages a different part of your brain, and information doesn’t make it into long-term memory. In contrast, the range of stimuli at an in-person event–from speakers to meals to meeting new people—creates novelty, which helps people be more open-minded and creative.
  2. To inspire a positive emotional reaction. 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.
  3. To build networks and relationships. There a  distinction between sharing information—which can easily be done virtually—and creating networks or relationships, which still requires in-person human interaction. Relationships forged in person are stronger.   “Trust is built more effectively face-to-face.”

This applies to every meeting—even just between two people. You can Facebook, email, tweet and even talk on the phone all you want, but there’s no substitute for the kind of energy and connection that happens when you actually get together with a colleague or customer in person.

That’s why, no matter how busy I get, I always make time for face-to-face meetings. In my experience, they’re invaluable for building relationships that last—and that help grow your business.