The Importance of “Face Time” – Making Time to Meet in Person

It’s amazing how much we get accomplished on a daily basis communicating by e-mail, phone and other channels (texts, blogs, chat, and social media). In fact, I send and receive about 50 to 75 e-mails a day. In today’s fast-paced marketing and communications landscape these forms of communication are essential to stay connected with each other and our customers. Even video conferencing through Skype, or some other online conferencing technology, allows us to add a personal touch to any conversation and connect a name with a face.

And although we have all of these fancy technologies and ways of communicating, sometimes you just need to meet in person. There’s something about sitting down with someone face to face for a meeting or business lunch that no other form of communication can provide. Meetings that involve food are always my preference.

Recently I got to travel and physically meet people I’ve been working with for almost a year, but have never met in person, and it was definitely worth it. After reflecting on these meetings here are a few of the things I like most about meeting in person.

Face-to-face meetings:

Reinforce relationships: Meeting in person allows you to take the relationship you’ve established via e-mail, phone calls and monthly conference calls and take it one step further. It helps build confidence that you’re working with real people that want to see your business succeed just as much as you do.

Cut clutter: How many times have you traded multiple e-mails or voicemail messages about a certain project or challenge, and both parties still aren’t sure what the other person is saying? Sometimes sitting down for just 15 minutes in person and discussing an issue can help sort everything out. Your e-mail and voicemail inbox will thank you as well.

Provide work environment insights: Getting a chance to visit a client’s office, factory or campus is a great way to better understand what they experience on a daily basis. Seeing their work culture, or getting first-hand experience on how their products are created, are elements that can never be accomplished via e-mail. Plus once you visit them it opens the door for them to come visit you.

Help gauge reactions: Seeing a person’s body language during a conversation or pitch is half the battle in determining if they like an idea or they think it stinks. Are they looking at you or the information you’re presenting, or are they constantly looking at the clock or checking Facebook updates on their mobile phone? In addition, maybe you’re discussing a very technical topic such as URL parameters. If you’re meeting in person you can see in their face if they understand it, or if the topic is totally confusing. This will help you know if you need to take time to better explain.

Check out the results from a survey the Crowne Plaza Hotels and Resorts conducted last year that surveyed more than 2,000 business people from around the world to gauge the importance of meeting in person versus virtually. One interesting insight was that 81 percent of the respondents said meeting in person is better for building long-term trust and ensuring strong client relationships.

I may be old fashion, but I’ll never turn down an opportunity to meet in person – especially if it involves food. What are your favorite reasons for meeting in person? Do you think meeting face to face is better in some situations than others?