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The Advantages of Human Interaction in the Digital Age

April 24, 2019
By Neha M. Shah, Director at the Pittsboro-Siler City Convention & Visitors Bureau

In today’s digitally-driven society, it may seem like fewer personal connections are being made as people increasingly communicate by phone and email.

The truth is: our basic human need for face-to-face interaction is more critical than ever to maintain relationships and build our businesses. Face-to-face meetings help us break through the silos we’ve created and use our collective brainpower to develop innovative solutions and spur creative thinking.

Face-to-face meetings are also more productive than conference calls and email chains. Why? The trust factor, for one. Sitting across the table can make a big difference when we’re tackling difficult challenges in a group, or one-on-one. And body language can make or break a business deal. The distinction between a cautious, cross-armed peer and a relaxed converser is worth noting. Face-to-face meetings may involve more effort logistically, but they yield far greater benefits.

Another reason face-to-face meetings make a difference is the necessity of small talk. Emails are efficient, but can be curt at times; their tone can be hard to decipher until a regular working relationship is established. But when we meet, we lean in and make pleasantries. The chatter inevitably leads to common ground and discussions that would likely never occur online. When we talk about ourselves, break the ice and fill the silence, we are more inclined to open up and discuss what matters, building meaningful connections that can in turn lead to future business opportunities.

Admittedly, I once underestimated the capabilities of a colleague and their level of professional experience. Our relationship had primarily been developed over internal chats and emails, until we carpooled together between home and a conference. During our commute, my teammate spoke of her many projects and stints throughout the world. I saw her in a different light and was glad to learn about her capabilities beyond what was displayed in her email signature and LinkedIn page.

Despite the increasing availability of digital connections and advanced technology, we still need to find trust, human interaction and humanity to build solid professional relationships. This balance is best accomplished through face-to-face, real life meetings.

A great way to shine a light on all of the contributions of the meetings and events industry more broadly is to participate in Global Meetings Industry Day, MMBC’s international day of advocacy. Encouraging your colleagues and contacts to attend or host an event on April 14, 2020 will demonstrate to the world how important meeting face-to-face is.