If you’re looking to advance both personally and professionally, then don’t underestimate the power of solid, face-to-face networking. According to a 2016 LinkedIn Global Survey, 70% of people are hired into a position as a result of a networking connection. In fact, research shows that 70% of open positions are never published publicly. Why? Because companies can rely on their employees’ networking connections to fill coveted roles.
While those numbers may be shocking, they’re only the tip of the iceberg. The reality is that in-person networking is more than just a tool for making small talk at conventions and business dinners. It’s a complete and total game-changer because people prioritize existing relationships. Why would a manager hire someone they don’t know over someone they’ve known for years and have a good rapport with? The short answer is that they wouldn’t.
But in-person networking is essential for more than just getting hired. It can also be vital when it comes to building and maintaining relationships with prospects and clients. One study from Oxford Economics found that 3 out of every 4 clients prefer face-to-face meetings. And 5%–20% of customers are found through trade shows. What does that mean for your business? It means face-to-face networking is essential if you want to get closer to your current clients and more potential clients. That might be why, according to Hubspot, 100% of business professionals believe in-person meetings are essential to maintaining long-term business relationships.
One study by Forbes took the investigation of in-person relationship building even further. Of those surveyed, 85% of participants believed meeting in person created more meaningful and stronger relationships. Then 77% reported a better ability to read body language and facial expressions, and 75% found it easier to bond with clients and coworkers. This data isn’t all that surprising considering that until the rise of the internet, all human relationships were built face-to-face. This study reinforces that building connections remains and will continue to remain a key function of any business.
That being said, the rise of online networking has also allowed professionals to make new and otherwise impossible connections all around the world. That same study from Forbes reported on the real impact of online networking. Of those surveyed, 92% said online networking saved time and 55% said it increased productivity. Not surprisingly, 76% said there was more flexibility in location and timing. This is great news for those looking to build business relationships remotely, but this method still lacks warmth. For the time being, you can rely on face-to-face networking to be more personable. Nevertheless, online networking is a vital tool for growing and maintaining business connections.
So, if you’re looking to build new business connections or strengthen old connections this year, prioritize in-person networking. Meeting face-to-face allows your clients, prospects, and employees to get to interact with you in an organic, personal manner. This is ideal. So, be sure to set up some time for trade shows, retreats, and other in-person bonding activities. Prioritize real-time connections with the people who help your business succeed.