Are we witnessing the demise of the face to face meeting?

Earlier this month, I was lucky enough to attend Analytica in Munich which, if you aren’t familiar with the event, is an industry conference covering all things Lab Technology, Analysis and Biotechnology. The conference attracted more than 1100 exhibitors from more than 45 countries and from the clients and candidates I spoke with, it looks as though 2018 is going to be a great year for the sector!

Analytica plug over though, that’s not what I wanted to talk about in this article. Being part of such a well-attended event had me thinking about how valuable the interactions and conversations are for all attendees of events like this. There’s so much to be gained from this sort of networking in business – and in particular recruitment and sales.

Recruitment is all about making introductions. They say that a first impression is made within the first 7 seconds of meeting someone, so when we introduce candidates to our clients, we want to give them the best chance to make that 7 seconds count.

By meeting our client in person and making our own first impression, we’re able to gather a huge amount of information that simply can’t be communicated either over the phone or in a Skype call.

That’s why I, and everyone at Charlton Morris, look to meet with clients wherever possible. We know how much value a meeting can add to the service we provide, and that’s why I think it’s essential that sales people in general but particularly recruiters don’t become too reliant on the online tools and platforms that are available.

Over the last few years I’ve seen the number of face to face meetings decreasing. Instead, we seem to place more and more trust in the host of online tools that are available today.

And don’t get me wrong, these tools are incredibly useful, as well as being big business.

Since 2011, Microsoft have spent almost $35 billion on the acquisitions of Skype ($8.5bn) and LinkedIn ($26.2bn), both of which facilitate introductions, interactions and conversations which would previously have taken place without the use of a computer.

As far as bringing the global business community together, they’ve been irreplaceable. Particularly when we’re trying to communicate with colleagues or clients on the other side of the world, but from a recruitment perspective, I just don’t believe that they can quite give the full picture.

Words have a big part to play (much more than the 7% which is misquoted by so many trying to sell presentation training) in any interaction, but there’s far more to a conversation or a meeting than just what is said. Whether you’re deciding to buy a product, sell a service, hire a candidate or even order a meal in a restaurant – body language, tone of voice and how a person acts in your presence can inform so much of your decision to buy, hire or order and these aren’t communicated in the same way on a Skype call.

As well as not giving the client the full picture that they need to make an intelligent hiring decision, this could also hinder the potential candidate, particularly if they’re commercially focused. The skills and assets that can’t be demonstrated via a video chat are often the attributes that make a great sales person stand out.

The pace of development of technology in all its forms is staggering, and in many ways our lives and businesses are much the better for it. Technology has also leveled the playing field in lots of ways – everyone is trained to act a certain way online or behind a screen but it’s the nuances and intonations we pick up from a face to face meting that allow us to make properly well informed business decisions when it comes to hiring or buying.

I don’t think that the face to face meeting is ever going to totally disappear, but we need to be careful not to give a Skype or FaceTime meeting the same status as a coffee, trip to the office or meal.

Do you agree? Is a meeting worth the extra time, effort and expense for Recruitment and Sales discussions? Leave your comments below and let me know your thoughts!

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