Chatting with your existing and potential clients over the phone, email or social networking sites is certainly valuable. But there’s a lot to be said for having a conversation or meeting in person instead.

Sure, online communications might be faster and more convenient, but are they as effective as face-to-face engagement?

While the ever-increasing opportunities for online networking could fool you into thinking we’re shifting away from in-person interactions, apps and instant messaging are no substitute for the real thing.

After all, just think how many emails, calls or messages you get bombarded with every day — both professionally and personally. With all this noise going on, it’s easy to become disengaged and switch off. Not so if someone is sat in the same room talking directly to you…

Kick-off new relationships in person

A quick email or phone call is great when you’re looking for instant feedback or the green light on an urgent project change. But when it comes to kicking off relationships with new clients, you should always aim to meet them personally.

If you don’t get on the same page from the outset, you could end up wasting a lot of time further down the line due to crossed signals. Meeting face to face allows for clearer communication of goals, objectives and expectations from the get-go. Plus, to really get the ideas flowing, you need to get everyone in a room together.

Of course, there are times when getting everyone together in the same place won’t be possible due to logistics. In these situations, at least use Skype or something similar so you can still communicate face to face — even if it is technically through a screen!

Reconnect with contacts over coffee

As well as building strong client relationships, face-to-face interactions can also go a long way to helping you maintain them. Even just meeting with clients once a quarter for a cup of coffee or lunch will help you get to know them better — as well as understand what’s working for them and what you could be doing differently.

These meetings are also the perfect opportunity to pitch new ideas in person or to discuss the additional services you can offer. Remember: talking face to face rather than over email is far more productive and will help you work collaboratively together to come up with appropriate, mutually beneficial solutions.

What’s more, touching base over a coffee is a great way to reconnect with old contacts who you might have lost touch with and see how their business is going. This more casual approach helps to build rapport and trust — and, crucially, allows key decision-makers to put a face to the name. Meaning you’ll be the first person they think of when they next require the services you offer.

Meet new prospects through events

Today, there are thousands of different products and services on the market. But with so many options available, it can be tough to cut through the clutter. So, how can you ensure your business stands out and continuously attracts new prospects?

People buy from people they like. Events facilitate face-to-face discussions with potential clients — helping them to establish a much more personal and intimate relationship with you than what is possible online.

Attending or exhibiting at an event is also a cost-effective way to generate brand recognition and interest in your products or services. It’s much easier (and quicker!) get buy-in when you have a live, captive audience to showcase it to. Plus, with an event, you can generate valuable feedback almost immediately, allowing you to address any potential questions or issues.

The exposure we gained at The Business Show earlier this year was great. We received lots of positive feedback about our marketing packages and three sign-ups on the day, as well as several hot leads who we’ve later onboarded following us building the relationship.

But how can you be sure you’ll attract worthwhile leads? The trick is to attend the right events, where the audience will be eager to hear what you have to offer. So, before you sign up, carefully consider who will be there and what types of products or services they’ll be looking for.

We’ll be attending The Hampshire Business Show on the 10th of October and The Business Show again on the 27th and 28th of November. Why not stop by for a chat?