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Make space for face-to-face

In business, as in our home lives, we are turning to technology more and more, but are we underestimating the value of face-to-face communication? Is it time to step away from your keyboard, or put down your smartphone? Clear B2B has identified four compelling business reasons why it’s well worth making space for face-to-face.

For many of us, digital communication is our preferred approach. This is quite natural as it is quick, convenient and accessible practically anywhere at almost any time, whether it be an email, WhatsApp or virtual meeting. But what if digital communication is just not enough? At Clear, we think an over-reliance on it can mean you miss out on building the type of partnerships which provide the best results. 

Clear B2B works with clients across the globe, so for us it isn’t always easy to spend a time with our clients face-to-face. However, wherever possible we make it happen because it adds depth and greater understanding to the relationship – something that can be hugely beneficial when it comes to creating business results. We are not alone in believing that interactions in person are more valuable now than ever. As Apple CEO Tim Cook said, “For all the beauty of technology and all the things we’ve helped facilitate over the years, nothing yet replaces human interaction.” 

So, here are just a few of the benefits we see: 

1.    Tap into non-verbal information
The way we communicate with people and understand others is not conveyed through words alone. Body language, tone of voice and the signs we give through expressions and hand gestures allows us a much fuller and more genuine understanding – you give a better sense of how you feel about a concept in a way that an email simply can’t express. 
This means, without face-to-face interaction, the chances of miscommunication are greatly increased, particularly when working in multiple languages and across different cultures. Communicating through text, email or even the phone can be easily misinterpreted – especially when you haven’t met the person and built trust, rapport and a mutual understanding. 

2.    Better understanding
Talking to someone in person strengthens understanding in a way a simple phone conversation cannot replicate. Face-to-face interactions open-up conversations. You learn more about your teams’ or customers’ challenges, while they learn more about your knowledge and experience. Honest exchanges are often easier to achieve when you are in the same space, and not hindered by call quality or poor internet connections. Less time is wasted going down unsuitable routes and faster progress is made by all. 

Being in the same space also helps to remove misunderstandings – if you misunderstand someone when you are in the room with them, you tend to reconfirm what’s been said. If you misunderstand someone on an email you are much more likely to feel your trust eroded.

3.    Strong bonds, greater commitment
We all tend to bond better when we have a shared experience, and once a strong bond is formed, there is a greater commitment to succeed. Agencies and clients tend to deliver better results when the individuals have a powerful commitment to ‘the team’ – a concept which extends over organisational boundaries. Ensuring teams bond well is more likely to give you better return on your investment.

Right from the very start, we prioritise face-to-face meetings with our clients to build the non-digital dimensions of the relationship. Whether our clients are in Amsterdam or Alabama we endeavour to get the whole team together in the early stages and continue to invest where possible in formal meetings and informal experiences.

Face-to-face meetings don’t have to be all about business. The down time in between is also valuable in terms of building and maintaining deeper and more productive relationships. The personal interaction of getting to know one another over dinner, drinks or cups of coffee can create stronger relationships. The personal relationships in business are motivating and create especially powerful partnerships which deliver exceptional results.

4.    It’s all about you
Virtual meetings are an efficient way to work with clients across multiple different sites, and technology has come a long way in making it easier to share information on screen, talk, and get digital face time, even if video conferencing can sometimes deliver some rather disjointed images and sound! Seeing only half a face or having to look up someone’s nose from an odd camera angle will hopefully be rectified in the not-too-distant future, as tech advances.

However, changes in technology won’t stop people from the multitasking when they're not in the same physical room as others. Multitasking in virtual meetings is very common practice. Rather than focusing solely on the meeting, participants get tempted to start checking emails and messages with their minds on other pressing jobs. There is a real danger that virtual meetings can contain lots of people not quite ‘in the room’. In fact, according to a survey from Forbes, 58% of executives admitted that they frequently surf the web, check emails, read unrelated materials and handle other work during digital meetings. In contrast, face-to-face communication removes the temptation to multitask, which in turn makes people more engaged with the meeting, and often provides a better end-result.

 

Hopefully, like us, you can see the benefits of including face-to-face time to help build more effective business relationships. If you are looking for a better agency experience contact Rachel Arquati

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