It is easy to fall into the habit of connecting with colleagues, employees, clients and those in our networks using email, text messages or even social media platforms. While these are all good ways to stay in touch, it is important to develop meaningful ways to have live, face-to-face interactions.
Taking the time to initiate this type of life face-to-face meeting shows a degree of importance to the relationship. It is also something that is meaningful to the person getting the invitation or who sees you taking the time to make the attempt to reach out and have that personal interaction.
The challenge can be in finding ways in an already crowded calendar to find the time. There are some strategies that can be very effective in creating opportunities that work for everyone involved.
- Connect at an event – most business professionals attend professional development conferences and seminars throughout the year. If you are going to be in attendance, find out if others in your network are also going. Make a plan to meet at a break or after a specific day at the conference and go for coffee, a meal or just find some time to talk together between sessions.
- Consider hosting a training – a great way to connect with your network may be to host a training. This could be a lunch and learn or a short workshop, with networking and discussion time set aside after a short presentation. This is an ideal way to have a ready-made conversation starter and to learn more about the other individuals in your network.
- Maximizing business travel – if you are in a position to travel as part of your role in business, reach out to customers, clients, colleagues or people in your network in advance of your trip. This allows you to schedule informal, face-to-face meetings that work for both of you. By keeping it informal, it is also a great relationship building tool and allows you to talk about interests that may be outside of the traditional conversations in formal meetings or sales conversations.
- Offer solutions – one way to encourage face-to-face meetings is to go into the conversation with something of value to the other person. This could be a solution to a problem in their industry, an idea they may want to try, or an idea about something related to their interests, passions, and When people see a meeting is not about a sale or getting something from them, they are more interested in finding the time to make it happen.
Being flexible and providing the option for the other person to set the date and the time can also be a good way to create opportunities for meeting face-to-face. Remember, it has to be mutually agreeable and of value, for the other person to want to participate.