Being there really matters – Virtual vs Face to Face

With the world’s pace of life and business moving ever faster, and technology appearing to control the speed, some apparently progressive business leaders are dismissing the power of meeting face to face, in favour of the latest technological interactions.

The importance placed upon the immediacy and speed seriously underestimates the power of human interaction and truly being there. If the point of business were simply to accomplish as many tasks as possible, then yes, an email would probably do. But that’s not what real leadership is about.

Managing a successful team or relationships — and, consequently, a successful business — requires personal connections. Business is, in large part, about building relationships. Being a successful businessman or businesswoman requires emotional intelligence as much as it does drive and discipline.

Don’t dismiss Face to Face connections
A leading figure and CEO who wishes to remain anonymous said, he learned a lesson about the importance of face to face communication soon after he became CEO of his company and inherited projects around the world. He said that he could have sent out linear forms to every country VP or director, deployed questionnaires, or even delegated the groundwork to his team. But instead, he spent much of the first year on the road, travelling from country to country, office to office and seeing clients.

On his travels, he met with his teams, asking questions, and listening to their concerns. These face to face interactions built trust, understanding, and a real sense of a shared mission, and this made all the difference in the world.

This is because people do business with people, not entities. The beauty of communication is found in the nuance that’s only felt in face to face conversations. We’re better at picking up on body language and changing emotions that can only be sensed in person. In addition, when a whopping 93% of communication effectiveness is determined by non-verbal cues, talking face to face becomes more important than ever.

This lack of in-person communication, on the other hand, means stakeholders often miss out on the reasoning behind decisions, making them less likely to engage. What’s more, it’s easier for them to feel less accountable and when making any kind of request, the probability of getting your desired answer is greater when you have a face-to-face meeting.

Recognising the importance of meetings doesn’t mean you have to give up efficiency.

As companies focus budgets on ways to land new business and strengthen existing relationships, travelling for face to face meetings is gaining renewed importance. A new study by Oxford Economics, a global research firm, provides clear evidence that business travel directly leads to an increase in both corporate revenue and profits. The study found that every dollar invested in business travel results in $12.50 in added revenues and $3.80 in new profits.

“This shows that companies need to appreciate the effects of certain types of cost cutting,” says Adam Sacks, Managing Director of Oxford Economics USA. “The research informs us that when a company reduces its travel budget, it loses both revenue and profits, giving competitors a real advantage.”

The study indicates that if a company eliminated its business travel, corporate profits would drop 17% in the first year. “And it would take more than three years for profits to reach the same level as before the travel budget cuts,” adds Sacks.

Conference calls, email, texting, video conferences, social networks and other forms of communication are all crucial elements in building and maintaining business relationships however, none of them captures the impact of meeting with someone face to face.

In today’s fast-paced world, you can’t forget to embrace humanity. Appreciating why people do business is more important than knowing what they do, and this kind of understanding is only attainable through in-person interactions.

With Hunt & Palmer, being there in person can be made so much more efficient than by conventional travel and is clearly better in terms of commercial results.

Talk to us about how we can help you achieve more, through more face to face meetings today. Visit us at www.huntandpalmer.com or call us on +44 1293 558000.

Posted on Monday 17th August 2015

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