People crave connections. While those connections may begin with an online conversation on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram, the best connections morph into face-to-face meetings. People sometimes then move back online, and stay in touch for years, meeting online and offline over months and years. But the offline meeting is what forges the connection.
Brainstorming, Laughing, and Whispering
Brainstorming often occurs best in offline meetings, where people are talking, interrupting, laughing, whispering, and in general having a good time. Social media can provide a strong introduction–and you can feel as though you know someone you’ve met online. But you won’t truly know them as well until you meet them offline. For instance, someone you thought was the biggest extrovert IN THE WORLD could suddenly turn into an introvert. Has that happened to you?
Technology Can Only Go So Far
Although we have wonderful technology to bridge the distances between colleagues, Google Hangouts, Skype, and Blab sessions can’t replace the face-to-face meeting, where we can see people roll their eyes, tap their fingers in frustration, or stifle a smile. And many entrepreneurs may dislike online meetings, especially Baby Boomers. By the way, here’s my post about Baby Boomers and Social Media.
Real-Life Meetings Drive Business
In an article from Entrepreneur, 3 Benefits of Meeting Face to Face, Katherine Duncan mentions that Simone uses a personal approach because it’s about “how you make them feel.” You’d never know without meeting in person that a serious person could be the class clown. Or that the class clown online is deadly serious offline. For me, meeting in person has led to more solid connections, and more business.
How a person stands, sprawls on a chair, or crosses their arms say a lot about what they’re thinking. None of that comes through online. In this article about The Surprising Power of Body Language, Ronald Riggio writes about how power poses and eye gazes can cause a shift in power. We all know someone whose body language is intimidating. And we all know that person who shrinks when you meet them in person. That first meeting in person is always a surprise.
Get Off Your Phone
Instinctively, we know that meeting in person helps build trust, although being connected to a smart (or dumb!) phone doesn’t. It’s similar to receiving a handwritten card in the mail–something unexpected and unusual, and a good way to stand out. Not to mention when you’re in person you can show off your good manners.
Face to Face Still Matters
One story stands out to me, and that’s the day a year ago that I met some online friends at WordCamp San Diego. Bridget Willard (You Too Can Be a Guru), my bestie, was going to see Heather Steele of Blue Steele Solutions, since Heather was speaking, so we all decided to meet up. Then we also got to meet Frank and Adam (also of Blue Steele Solutions). We all still talk about that meeting and the long dinner we had with Tracy Phillips and Chef Ivan Flowers. Even though it was a year ago, we all remember that day. Could a tweet go that far? Or a Google Hangout? I don’t think so.
Who have you met and how did that meeting surprise you?