By the time you read this, I’ll have just returned from the huge Mind Body Spirit Festival in Sydney, where I’ll be promoting my flower essences to any of the 15,000 passersby who care to listen.
The business is still in its infancy, so taking a stand there is a huge investment for us, but we do it because the value we gain is tremendous.
I love that over a period of just a few days I get a first-hand glimpse of hundreds of people’s responses to our products, marketing materials and sales messages. It lets me quickly learn what’s working and what needs tweaking or reinventing. Gathering that kind of data online would take us weeks or months of split testing.
More importantly though, in a world where business is moving online at the speed of light, trade shows give me the opportunity to meet our customers in person and form meaningful connections with them. And I’m not talking about just one or two customers either: wave after wave of them, all on the same weekend. It’s like going to a party where you don’t know who’s going to turn up, but you do know that every person who does will have something valuable to share with you. I love it!
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That face-to-face connection has become rare in my other business, where it’s increasingly common for me to connect with clients via Skype, email or even Facebook, but never actually see them in real life.
The contrast between the two has made me realise I need to grasp the opportunity to connect in person whenever circumstances allow. It’s during real-life interactions that we pick up on subtleties in communication, discover each other’s passions, and have rambling conversations that result in extraordinarily good ideas. And quite frankly, while I’m a big fan of social media and connecting with folk online, getting to know someone in person is much more fun.
I’m realistic enough to know that face-to-face connections aren’t always practical – so I won’t be giving up my Skype or Facebook accounts anytime soon. But I am going to try to get my head out of my computer more and find ways to sit down with my clients over a coffee or a glass of wine every now and then.
Have you had a similar face-to-face networking revelation, or are you happier connecting from afar?