With the exception of a few jobs that absolutely require person-to-person contact, many of us, the freelance specialists, can do our jobs with little or no face-to-face contact. We can, but we shouldn’t.
The truth is that engaging with new prospects in person has some undeniable benefits. Keep reading to learn more about those and get practical advice on how you can get more comfortable with the old-fashioned in person networking.
Everything you say will be heard
Social networking is great, but the things you say are often missed. In fact, only about 10% of your followers are likely to see any given Facebook post. So, those big announcements or other promotional posts often fly under the radar. When people do see your social media posts, even your emails, the reaction is delayed.
That’s not the case when you engage with people in person. Whether it’s a meeting, an interview, or a conference, you know that you are heard when you speak. You see the response you get and you have the opportunity to follow-up immediately.
Live interactions foster credibility
Nearly anyone, regardless of talent or experience, can create an online presence and build themselves up as expert or influencer. Because of this, people often approach what they see online with suspicion. Even before you can share your insights or expertise with potential clients or associates, you have to convince them you are worthy of their time.
It’s different with live engagement. If you are attending a networking event or a conference, the assumption is that you belong and deserve to be heard. So, rather than convincing people that you are worth of their time and attention, you can jump right into sharing your knowledge and expertise.
Clients appreciate the effort of showing up
Nearly 100% of people believe that face-to-face contact is important for long term business relationships. Based on that alone, it makes sense to engage in face-to-face networking. One reason this is so important is the effort it takes to be present. When you show up at a client’s office, or meet them for lunch, you’ve taken the time to make yourself presentable, arranged for transportation and done all of the other work required to be present in front of them.
Imagine the leg up you can get on your competitors when you’re the only person to travel across town to meet a potential client. People see these efforts and it impacts their perception of you in a positive way.
You can connect better with non-verbal communication
There are so many things that you can see and experience in person that you simply can’t via email or Skype. When you are live and in person, you can use body language, tone of voice and other elements of communication to make the best possible impression on your audience.
Even better, you can practice these ahead of time. By learning to control your body language, tone of voice, even triggering a mood response by wearing the right pheromone scents, you can really work the room.
At the same time, you’ll be in a much better position to get a read on the people you’re with. You’ll be able to tell, who’s distracted, making eye contact and who’s most attentive to your message. With practice, you can learn to react to that on the fly, changing your approach based on the response you receive.
Face-to-face contact increases recognition
Most people are visual learners. Even those who aren’t can still benefit from associating a face with a name. When people meet you in person, they’re simply better able to remember you in the future. Yes, your social media profiles might have your picture on them. Your face might even be featured on your website. Still, a thumbnail or two dimensional image isn’t the same as seeing you live and in person.
In a live encounter, people associate your face, personality, tone of voice and movement. They see your facial expressions and mannerisms. All of this makes it much easier for them to remember you when you follow up with them later.
The convenience of interacting digitally cannot be denied. One of the biggest draws of freelancing is the ability to work remotely. In spite of this, there are so many reasons to network in person when you can. It’s worth the effort. You’ll form greater connections with people and ensure that your message is truly received.