face-to-face networking

We know that face-to-face networking is still vital in this digital age. But it is an activity that does require a significant amount of time and effort, both of which have costs attached. Digital businesses need to make sure this on-the-ground networking is done as effectively as possible. Here are 5 ways to best accomplish that:

Prioritize Personal Networking

In spite of the growth and efficiency of social media, there are still many opportunities for old-school face-to-face networking. Like any other business activity, you need to figure out exactly what the impact is for your bottom line and allocate resources accordingly.

Conferences and Trade Shows

Keep in mind that attending an industry event in order to keep up with developments in your field, while certainly worthy for that purpose, does not necessarily mean it is a great networking event. It can be filled with your competitors, rather than potential customers.

On the other hand, there may be conferences where you may be able to participate on a panel, this would not only expose you to a great many potential customers but could also contribute to becoming known as an expert in your field.

Offsite Meetings

Marketing consultant Shel Horowitz told the Wall Street Journal,

“Even clients I’ve worked with remotely often book a whole lot more work once we’ve shared a handshake, some smiles, and maybe a meal.”

And maybe the same could be true for you. It may be worth arranging to meet your biggest customers in person, and if you really want to make an impression it never hurts to buy them a meal or a drink.

Stay in Touch

If meeting face-to-face can have so much impact, then maintaining the relationship only increases the effectiveness of that contact. And the best thing about it is that the follow-up does not have to be in person, technology can still be useful for this purpose.

Group Meetings

Go to Meeting, Google Hangouts and other applications allow you to have group meetups online, yet still face-to-face

Individual Meetings

Skype, FaceTime, and any number of other apps make it possible to enjoy visual communication with individuals.

While certainly not the same as physically being in the same location, these are still miles ahead of any type of written communication method.

Referral Management

While last, this could prove to be the most important. Remember, networking is not just growing your contact list by meeting a lot of new people. Your network grows exponentially by the people you meet referring you to others. Just like word of mouth spurs sales, so does it grow your business.

As noted in this article from BusinessKnow-how,

“When people give you referrals, your actions are a reflection on them. Respect and honor that and your referrals will grow.”

So you will want to be particularly careful to do your best when doing business with clients who are referred to you.

The reasons for networking remain the same, whether digital or bricks and mortar. But there is no question that face-to-face, in the same place, can significantly elevate the effectiveness of interaction.

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