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Why Face-to-face Communication is Important for Small Business
  • 25 April 2018
  • Rebecca Delaney

Why Face-to-face Communication is Important for Small Business

In today's digital world it's easy to forget there's a person on the other side of that text, instant message, email or social post. While it's easy to fire off a text or email, the importance of face-to-face communication can't be overstated—especially when trying to establish relationships with co-workers, clients or customers for your small business. While these communication tools make life easier and help communicate across the globe at minimal (or no) cost, relying on them as your sole form of communication can ultimately result in greater costs to your business.

According to research published in the Harvard Business Review, a request made face-to-face was 34 more times effective than the same request made over email. Authors cited the non-verbal cues that the requesters conveyed during their request as what made the difference between the in-person exchange and the email.

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Management and business guru Peter Drucker felt the same way about face-to-face communication in business. "The most important thing in communication is to hear what's not being said," he said. It's impossible to read a client's body language or for them to read yours over an email so create some opportunities for face-to-face communication and watch your small business become more effective and efficient.

The advice here isn’t to completely go retro and ditch your phone and laptop, but the following are some ways to work face-to-face communication into your business to strengthen important relationships.

Video conferencing

Instead of a phone call or email, suggest having that meeting using a video conferencing tool Skype or FaceTime (which are both free). Skype's screen sharing isn't always reliable, so if you need to share your screen with a customer or make a presentation look into Zoom, Google Hangouts, Cisco WebEx or GoTo WebMeeting.

While video conferencing is better than impersonal email, it can be difficult to use or hard to hear depending on the other people’s location and environment (e.g., someone is traveling and in a loud airport environment). If feasible, always offer to meet in person especially for important, high-stakes meetings where you need to close a sale. Making the effort to meet in person signals to the customer that they are important to you and your business. An in-person meeting can also go a long way in establishing trust and can prove to be more effective when you’re able to address concerns and questions on the spot versus of going back and forth over email or a spotty video chat.

Attend industry conferences

Industry conferences are a great way to learn about new trends in your field and also provide a natural venue to catch up in-person with old and new clients. Let your clients know you'll be attending and see if they’re able to meet for dinner or coffee. Meeting your customers in a more casual, fun setting helps nurture your relationship and helps you get to know his or her personality, a little more about their life outside of business, and their likes and dislikes. When you head back to the office, this personal relationship will translate to a more effective business relationship.

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Join your local Chamber of Commerce or business group

With monthly meetings, networking events, luncheons, and seminars, it's impossible not to find some way to get out of the office and meet fellow small business owners and potential clients at your local business group or chamber of commerce. And meeting face-to-face doesn't always have to be about business. Sometimes the best business relationships are formed over a friendship. Some business groups offer member events like bowling nights, paint nights, or wine tastings. So get dressed, get out there, meet some people and watch your business grow.

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