Are Face to Face Meetings – better than online?

As someone that spends a great deal of time online and promotes networking and building businesses through online relationships it may seem strange that I am writing about face to face meetings.

Whilst a great deal can be achieved online using social media like Facebook and Twitter, plus Skype, messaging services and even that thing called a telephone there is room for face to face meetings.

There are advantages to face to face meetings that are difficult if not impossible to achieve using online methods.

Here are some of the main areas that I believe we should all consider as we build business relationships with, customers, suppliers, outsources and employed offsite staff.

When we have a face to face meeting we can assess a person more easily because not only can we engage in conversation but we can see their non verbal behavioral actions. Do they appear to be comfortable or uncomfortable in what they are saying? Do they appear to be avoiding answering our question and perhaps even lying? Are they upset or appear to have some worry on their mind?

It is not so easy to tell unless we can see the person. At this point someone may say that you can see them on a web video conferencing link. That is true but you can normally only see a part of them. They may be fidgeting with their watch or clenching fists perhaps signs that we would like to pick up on if we thought they were uncomfortable with the discussion.

When we meet someone face to face we also tend to spend a little more time getting to know them during those small talk moments. Knowing about a business or potential business associate personally can help us decide whether we should be doing business or not. Are they trustworthy, have integrity, are competent and possess the skills we are seeking? Their personal lives learned about during small talk can reveal a lot about them.

For those of us that spend time in an office on our own there is also the great advantage that face to face meetings give us human contact and can prevent feelings of isolation taking over our lives. Human relationships should never be undervalued and having people that you can talk to and call on for a little support is vital. Face to face meetings help build such bonds and even though you may next communicate by phone, text, or Twitter the fact that you have met improves those forms of communication.

Face to face meetings should be very effective meetings and soon an article will be published with some tips on holding effective meetings so that you can get the most from them.

How do you prefer to hold business meetings? Face to face or online? When do you make sure that face to face are held instead of online?

Please leave your comments in the box below.

Roland Millward
The Entrepreneur Club

Image: Francesco Marino / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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7 thoughts on “Are Face to Face Meetings – better than online?

  1. Great timely article. It seems lately people want to do business without meeting customers. I for one value the interpersonal communication achieved from being onsite; person to person. I am in a service oriented company, so I may be biased, but I feel I achieve more company good-will being face to face versus online. The nonverbal feedback is great. The ability to “size someone up” or “see where their are comming from” can only true be done in person.

  2. I think you need to have a mix of both. Online helps to build the relationships that you make but nothing beats a face to face meeting. I like to meet all of my clients in person, although much of the work can be done via online sources.

  3. It seems to me that the face to face meeting is still important as this is where it all starts. People that I know who are successful online are successful because they are normally recommended by someone they have got to know socially at various events and have built up a relationship. These people are also skilled at using the various social online community networks and very rarely actually mention what they do. This does not always come naturally but I believe can be learnt.

  4. Face to face meetings are the best but most people will not agree to a face to face until they have spoken to you in a conference call. This is a safe way for them to size you up and learn more about your services. Most executives that I speak with will first take a conference call and then meet when a project is available.

  5. When presenting design ideas, there’s no substitute for face-to-face meetings. The words may say ‘fine’, but the body language might suggest a bit more work is required.

    In a real meeting, the surroundings can tell you about the person or company you’re dealing with – their family, football team, interests.

  6. This is an interesting argument that seems to go round and round. Is one way better then the other? Surely it depends upon the objective of the meeting. The number of pointless meetings that are held because of an executive’s whim is akin to Pavlov’s Dog conditioning. I “meet” so many people that say “the only way” to conduct business is through face-to-face meetings – especially sales.

    I met someone at the weekend who said “pha – I don’t waste my time with emails or any of this social media stuff, I suppose you’ll tell me that you twitter (sic) also”. Oh well .. The disppointing thing was that she was a sixth form teacher.

    Funnily enough, I receive at least 2-3 telephone calls a day from sales people wanting to arrange a meeting. Usually they are selling really complex solutions like “IP telephone systems” or claim that they can sit down with me and explain how they can “reduce our phone call costs / energy bills”. My thought process is always the same, “you’ve taken the time to phone me and I’m not convinced so what am I going to waste my time in a face to face meeting for”. However, if they followed up the phone call with an email that succinctly explained the benefits and the process + costs involved together with the bottom line ROI – I would probably go ahead – and have done so on many occasions. Now if I were their employer I would be seriously doubting their efficiency & efficacy.

    … before you ask, I have been in marketing and sales for 25 years and the world is changing. The decision whether a meeting is “best” held, you can read into that what you will, face-to-face or at the other end of the spectrum purely 1-to-1 on the phone is surely dictated by a number of factors rather than “I’ve always done it that way and why should I adapt”. What are the FTF only crowd afraid of ?

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