Steve Jobs on the Importance of Face-to-Face Meetings (Even in the Age of iPhones)

2.46 billion people used social networks in 2018, and that number is expected to continue to grow each year. With the ever-increasing use of smartphones and the opportunities for online networking, it’s easy to think we’re shifting away from in-person meetings.

But Steve Jobs, inventor of the iPhone, knew a long time ago that face-to-face meetings would never go out of style. “There’s a temptation in our networked age to think that ideas can be developed by email and iChat. That’s crazy. Creativity comes from spontaneous meetings, from random discussions.”

As it turns out, Jobs was onto something. According to a study by Great Business Schools, 84% of people still say they prefer in-person meetings, confirming what Steve Jobs already knew: that people have to be in a room together to really get the ideas flowing.

And it’s no surprise why. Here are five reasons face-to-face meetings matter.

1. Clearly communicating goals and objectives.

Face-to-face meetings allow for clearer communication. In addition to being able to read facial expressions, body language, and inflection, in-person meetings often end up being more positive, and considered more credible than online or virtual conversations.

Without non-verbal cues, you also run the risk of misinterpreting information. In fact, 60% of people regularly misread tone or message when communicating via email or phone, according to this infographic put together by Entrepreneur.

What does that mean? Talking trumps typing.

2. Bonding and building relationships.

No matter how much we may like social networking, in-person interactions are at the very core of relationship building, both personally and professionally. In fact, 85% of people believe face-to-face meetings contribute to stronger, more meaningful business relationships.

So, if you want to from true, concrete connections, try to meet in-person rather than online whenever possible.

3. Millennials want to meet face-to-face just as much as previous generations, if not more.

According to a study by FactTank, Millennials are currently the largest generation in the U.S. workforce. Even though they’ve grown up in a much more digital age than previous generations, 80% of Millennials say they prefer meeting face-to-face when communicating with colleagues, versus 78% of Gen X.

Clearly, face-to-face meetings won’t go out of style anytime soon.

4. Face-to-face meetings are more focused and more productive.

Not only do in-person meetings tend to be more positive, they also tend to be more productive. On average, an in-person meeting generates about 13.36 ideas versus a virtual meeting, which generates 10.43.

And although virtual meetings are sometimes more convenient, nearly 70% of people admit to browsing social media to pass the time during audio-only conference calls.

5. Technology helps improve our ability to meet, not replace it.

While face-to-face meetings continue to be the number one way to connect, social networking is still an important piece of the puzzle when it comes to building a business network. Think of platforms like LinkedIn, Skype, or other virtual meeting technologies as tools to aid in your networking efforts rather than replacing them altogether.

If you’re interested in offering more face-to-face networking opportunities, consider speed networking, round tables, or targeted connections. Because email, apps, and instant messaging are all great, but they’re no substitute for in-person networking.

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