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  • Jeni Smith

Is Face-to-Face Finished?

Six months ago when I was just starting to think about launching a networking consultancy to help people network more efficiently, I would NEVER have guessed the only networking they'd be doing was from home!

I'd never heard of 'Zoom', and to be honest, I'd never even considered attending a networking event remotely.

But here we are, coming up to four months into lock-down and remote networking is starting to feel more like the norm.


So what does that mean for the future of face-to-face events?


Let's be honest we've all seen the benefits of networking from home: no lost time commuting, parking's not an issue, meeting more people in one go, no tempting breakfast sarnies to worry about, and you don't have to face that dreaded moment of walking into a room full of strangers and proceed to try and navigate the social etiquette's of the room.


Could the benefits of remote networking mean that there's no need for face-to-face? We're all used to the tech now, the hundreds of weekly Zoom calls have forced us to get comfortable with communicating in this way, maybe we don't need to meet in-person?


Wrong!


As we've all felt during lock-down, human interaction is of the upmost importance when it comes to building, and maintaining our relationships. We need to be near others in order to build long-term meaningful bonds. These relationships take time. Nurturing.

When we're clear of Covid and all restrictions are lifted you're not going to communicate with your friends and family via Zoom quizzes and group messages are you?


No. Because you want to be near them, spend time in their company. Give them a hug ffs!


However, you may now continue to have Zoom calls with friends and family in between those all important face-to-face meetings (especially if you live far away from each other or have busy schedules that always seem to clash), whereas before lock-down you'd probably not have even considered it.

So rather than replacing the traditional face-to-face contact, remote catch-ups with loved ones could become an addition to our communication repertoire.


This is how I feel about remote business networking.


It can't replace the power of in-person, but it can, and should, become an additional method of building professional relationships moving forward.

Historically we've used social media or in-person as the two main methods of starting and building relationships; but now there's a third option which for me sits perfectly in the middle of the first two.


Social is a great way of connecting and engaging with a large volume of people, but it's difficult to build deeper relationships through a screen. Proceed to the develop these relationships via remote networking events (or calls) where the digital and face-to-face kind of combine. Then one day, hopefully soon, we'll be able to take those digital relationships to the ultimate interaction of meeting in 3D where we can really cement the connections we've been able to make virtually.


As stronger relationships require more time and maintenance, we of course have fewer of them; there's only so many hours in the day! So moving forward, I believe the face-to-face meetings and events will almost start to represent dedication on behalf of the people present, showing their commitment to the individual relationship (if it's a meeting) or the process of building new relationships (networking events).


I'm always going to vote for in-person events because that's my personal preference, but in the new world I'll very much be looking to integrate remote events into my networking strategy too! Hopefully finding a balance between all three mediums of on and off-line networking and relationship maintenance.


As it looks as though remote networking is here to stay, this week I launched my first Udemy training course on the subject! It was a real labour of love, and I'm super proud of the finished product: it's been designed as a fun, interactive way of learning how to network remotely and build effective long-term relationships from the comfort of your own home. So if you're looking to develop your career, find your next client, or up-skill yourself in the field of professional networking take a look at the course's promo video and find out more HERE!












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