With the advance of online meeting technology, you’d be rational to guess that small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) are traveling less, and that old-school, in-person meetings are down sharply.
And you’d be dead wrong.
The truth is that in the U.S., the meetings industry is booming. Jobs are expected to increase by 43.7%, according to research from Bizzabo. That’s four times the national average.
Let’s face it: face-to-face communication is no longer an absolute necessity. We know this. But with 83% of business people citing developing personal relationships as the key to doing business, and with 53% believing that video conferencing and web-based meetings are poor substitutes for their face-to-face counterparts, it’s clear that in-person meetings are still vital for establishing deep connections with important clientele.
“We’re now just cavemen in power suits”
Forbes contributor Rob Asghar recently reminded us about the science of human contact. He notes that humans have only been using words for a tiny fraction of our existence, meaning words alone have a “very limited impact on our ability to move people or connect with them.”
More from Asghar:
“What has the maximum impact, in our careers and all our networks and relationships, is face-time – that intimate encounter in which we’re subconsciously mirroring and measuring one another.” Asghar references Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer and Broadcom CEO Scott McGregor as two famed technologists who firmly believe in the benefits of working together in person. McGregor credits “lots of plane tickets” with keeping his global high-tech company connected.
Why SMBs should embrace face-to-face
Granted, we’re getting closer, but there’s still no replacement for being there in person.
- We can achieve better communication through use of facial expressions and body language.
- The reactions are instant, occurring in really real time.
- Human contact releases hormones that act as a neurotransmitter in the brain – something that can’t be replaced by technology.
- Humor brings people together, and it’s easier to express humor in person.
- Scheduling in-person meetings shows that you are making a sincere effort to develop a relationship. The other person almost always appreciates that you’re willing to take the extra step.
How to maximize the face-to-face time you have with your clients
Meet for the right occasions. Make your face-to-face time count by meeting when your goal is to inspire or to arouse emotion, which is often the goal when you’re establishing a relationship or pitching something new. Most other times sending an email will do just fine.
Come dressed to impress. It’s also important to anticipate the atmosphere. We all know not to wear shorts to a gala or a tuxedo to a picnic, but getting your finger on the pulse of the corporate culture allows you to approach the meeting with confidence. If you don’t know, it’s okay to ask.
Show up ready to go. Make sure your agendas are fleshed out, your presentation equipment has been tested, your reservations are confirmed, your travel routes are clear, etc. etc. Preparation is the best failure preventative.
Take advantage of tools that make life easier. The right tools can make all the difference. Automated, mobile-enabled solutions make travel and small business expense management a snap. Keep confirmations and itineraries at your digital fingertips and use features like a mobile expense report form to give tedious, time-consuming tasks the ol’ one, two. Let your business travelers focus on the important tasks at hand.
So yes, with the help of technology, we can get more done without needing the face time we once did. But if you’re serious about establishing key business relationships there’s still no beating the old-school, in-person meeting.
How can your company benefit from getting back to the basics with business communication?
Get face-to-face with the bountiful benefits of automated expense reporting. Start your Concur test drive today.