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

Posted by Roger Rickard in Meetings, Uncategorized.
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6 comments

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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