We’ve all been through a lot over the last couple of years, and much has changed in our lives. Some of it good, some of it bad, but I feel we need to get back into some old habits to make what we do fun again.

The way we all now work has changed, probably forever, and in a lot of cases for the good. But there is one element I want to bring back, because without it our industry becomes a bit dry.

In this ever-evolving digital age, video calls have become an integral part of professional (and personal) communication. They offer convenience, efficiency, and accessibility that make them an attractive choice for connecting with people.

However, amidst this trend of virtual meetings that we have sleepwalked into, we must not overlook the rather quaint idea of meeting someone in person, or #IRL as the kids like to say.

While technology has made it easier to bridge some geographical challenges, there are many unique benefits that can only be harnessed through face-to-face meets.

After nearly 30 years of working in Client Services teams across many agencies I wanted to share some of the reasons why I feel in-person client meetings remain a vital component of successful business relationships (and why all need to make a big effort to meet up in person again).

Building Trust and Rapport
Building trust is the cornerstone of any successful relationship. I personally have no ‘super-powers’, so I totally rely on a good overall knowledge, that I can use as a starter to build trust and a relationship with the people I meet. In-person meetings offer a level of personal connection that video calls cannot replicate that allows the chemistry of trust to begin.

When clients meet you face-to-face, they can see your body language, gauge your sincerity, and build a deeper rapport. Trust is often formed through subtle cues like eye contact, handshakes, and body language, which are difficult to convey through a screen. Plus, the odd Dad joke, which can sometimes be lost across a fuzzy connection.

Effective (uninterrupted) Communication
While video calls provide a platform for communication, they can sometimes be marred by technical glitches, audio issues, or distractions. In-person meetings eliminate these barriers, allowing for more effective and uninterrupted communication. Nuances, emotions, and complex ideas are conveyed more easily when you can engage in a real-time, natural conversation without the limitations of technology. Imagine never having to hear those dreaded words “can you see my screen” again.

Reading the room
In negotiations or discussions, understanding the unspoken is often as crucial as hearing the words themselves. It is nearly impossible to read the room virtually. In-person meetings allow you to pick up on non-verbal cues such as facial expressions, tone of voice, and posture. This information can provide valuable insights into your client’s feelings, concerns, and priorities, helping you tailor your approach and responses effectively, and make sure you don’t dig yourself a deeper hole!

Show you really care
Actions speak louder than words and creating a marginal gain or difference, however small, can be a winning move in a new relationship. So why not make the effort? Clients appreciate feeling valued and important to your business. Meeting them in person conveys a personal touch, demonstrating your commitment to their needs. It shows that you are willing to invest time and effort to understand their goals, which can strengthen their loyalty and satisfaction. You will also get a chance to meet more of their team to forge wider relationships moving forward.

Know Your Customer
So many virtual meetings are all business. With everyone’s diaries being back-to-back, there’s no time for small talk or chat, it’s straight into the agenda. It makes it impossible to build a relationship. We are sociable animals, and we have a need to build deeper, personal connections.

In-person meetings create memorable experiences where we can move beyond the British Weather small talk and find out more about each other. What happened at the hen weekend? Did their team win? Was their kid’s birthday party a success?

This point may sound a bit calculated. But it isn’t. Most people in are world are similar, we just all sometimes need a reminder that we are people, not positions. Remembering that there is likely to be a kindred spirit sitting in front of them.

The personal connection formed during these meetings can leave a lasting positive impression, making it more likely for clients to remember you, your business and how you can help. If you get it right, they will also look forward to the next meeting.

Rallying call
In a world which is increasingly driven by digital communication, in-person meetings must again become a vital tool in nurturing client relationships – a re-discovered superpower. They foster trust, enhance communication, and provide a personal touch that technology cannot replicate.

While video calls and virtual meetings have their place, they should complement, rather than replace, face-to-face interactions. By recognising the importance of in-person client meetings, and trying to conduct them when feasible, businesses can strengthen their connections with clients, ultimately leading to more successful and enduring partnerships, where both sides win.

Please let know your thoughts.