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Why Face-to-Face Meetings Matter October 6, 2009

Posted by Roger Rickard in Meetings, Uncategorized.
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Spending time away from home is not fun. I love where I live in Northern California and the life I have here. In truth, travel wears on me; the endless hours in the air, waiting in airports, the rental cars, sleeping in hotels, enough is enough. So why spend time away? Because meeting people face to face is so incredibly important. Whether it is meeting with a potential client, presenting ideas to a group of guests at a meeting or just spending time talking with people – the face to face interaction is the driving force in building lasting relationships and creates a bond that enables far greater communication in the future. Once we’ve spent time together face-to-face, both parties feel both a deeper connection and a stronger obligation to one another.

Here is an excerpt taken directly from a recent (June 2009) research study on Managing Across Distance in Today’s Economic Climate: The value of Face-to-Face Communication. Kudos to British Airways for sponsoring this research.

As the economic picture darkened during the recent downturn, companies worldwide tightened travel budgets, with many executives turning to the telephone, the web, and video conferencing to conduct business. However, according to a survey of Harvard Business Review subscribers, travel to meet in person with key customers, partners, and employees remains essential for selling new business as well as building long-term relationships. 79% said that in-person meetings are the most effective way to meet new clients to sell business. Furthermore, 89% agreed that face-to-face meetings are essential for “sealing the deal.”

Virtually all survey participants (95%) said that face-to-face meetings are a key factor in successfully building and maintaining long-term relationships, reflecting what many executives call the ‘high impact” of in-person communication.

“Face-to-face communication contact is the broadest bandwidth communication you can have in professional life.” Click here for the executive summary.

Just think if we didn’t have face to face business meetings – we wouldn’t need; airplanes, trains, hotels, rental cars, and many other services. Restaurants would close; catering companies would be limited to weddings, bar mitzvahs, and class reunions. Unemployment would skyrocket. More people are currently employed in services sector than any other employment sector baring government.

I’m in the face-to-face business – I’m in the meetings business. In today’s world the face-to-face business is hurting in a big way. In the above mentioned research, the average corporate travel budget has been cut 17%. Cut backs and cancelations are everywhere. This has to stop. We need to get back to the business of business. Get back on a plane, train or automobile and start meeting face-to-face again.

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Comments»

1. Teri Curry - October 8, 2009

I could not agree more. Face-to-face human contact is how we build relationships. Whether personal or business, we are more comfortable dealing with people with whom we have established relationships. And while social and business internet networking sites grow everyday; if you look at the people you have connected with on those sites, I would hazard a guess that you know more than 80% personally. Or at the least, you know them with only one degree of separation. We want to deal with people we trust. We trust people we have met, with whom we have conversed. We carry those connections into the other forms of communication in our lives. The communication formats are tools of relationships. Having met someone, having formed a connection, is the essence of the relationship. It is key.

2. Terence Donnelly - October 9, 2009

Great article Roger. With the recent passage of the Travel Promotion Act and the buzz on the importance of face-to-face meetings (see also Forbes study at http://digs.by/81P ) we need to stand up for our industry. I look at this also from the Trade Show market where these events represent a stimulus and real commerce. Studies show that corporations on avg. see an uptick in earnings following major trade show participation. Hopefully we’ll see a remarkable turnaround for 2010.

3. Bob Dawson - October 12, 2009

Roger:

Thank you! With all of the Social Media hype it is a real RE-freshing thing to read! I am still old school on meeting face to face and heaven knows, I could not agree more with your assessment of travel, but in the end, I get the best results when I can be face to face.

4. Twitter Trackbacks for Why Face-to-Face Meetings Matter « R World [reventllc.wordpress.com] on Topsy.com - October 13, 2009

[…] Why Face-to-Face Meetings Matter « R World reventllc.wordpress.com/2009/10/06/why-face-to-face-meetings-matter – view page – cached Tags: British Airways, business travel, face-to-face, Harvard Business Review, meetings, meetings business trackback — From the page […]

5. Brian Parker - October 15, 2009

Great article….I couldn’t agree more. I’ve never closed one deal or pitch without being front and center face-to-face with my clients…whether it’s on the front end gathering data and asking questions or presenting the final design concept.

6. Better Meetings Day #10: Foundation of Face to Face—Qworky Blog - June 6, 2010

[…] Rickard, the Chief Business Solicitor of REvent, argues on his blog that “face to face interaction is the driving force in building lasting […]


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