After two years of restrictions, we have finally returned to face-to-face networking events and meetings here in Ireland. Most restrictions were recently lifted, which allowed networking events and meetings that had been held online to be face-to-face again!

It was so exciting for us to be in the National Construction Expo earlier this month. It allowed us to meet familiar faces once again after two years, as well as to get to know new ones that we hope to collaborate with in the future.

If you are anything like us at Digitaliser, what keeps you going is the ability to support other people (in our case, supporting the digital marketing efforts and digitalisation of Irish businesses). Chatting with the people we support and listening to their pain points is essential to what we do, and we find it much more effective to do face-to-face.

Networking can serve so many purposes. By building an engaged network of like-minded people you will make it easier for you to:

· Find customers and get referrals
· Find talent when you are ready to hire
· Understand your target customers
· Get opportunities, including publishing guests posts on other websites and being interviewed for publications and podcasts
· Learn from fellow experts

You can prioritise either virtual or face-to-face networking. Both have pros and cons and we anticipate that in the future we will have an abundance of both.
As for us, we cannot wait for more face-to-face events and meetings. Let us tell you why!

Benefits of Face-to-Face Networking

Virtual networking has served us well over the past couple of years. There are many areas in which it is superior to face-to-face networking, including not having to waste time driving to a physical location.
But there are a few areas in which virtual networking has always come up short, regardless of the measures we took to mitigate those limitations. Below are a few of them.

Face-to-face networking
Virtual networking
Freedom to approach anyone in the roomHard to approach people unless the hosts facilitate it
Longer conversationsExpectation of quick conversations to move on to the next person
Eye contactNo direct eye contact
Easier to read body languageLimited body language to be read
Face-to-face interaction and connectionIsolation and loneliness
Easier to share brochures and business cardsNeed to implement digital brochures and business cards that are not always adopted

Tips to Safely Return to Face-to-Face Networking

Safety will have various meanings depending on with whom we are speaking: some will be quicker to go back to the pre-pandemic ways, while others will hang onto the safety measures we have become used to.
Regardless of where you are in this spectrum, here are a few common sense rules to always have in mind.
· Follow the national and venue safety guidelines
· Read people’s body language to know what they are comfortable with
· Find a balance between human touch to promote connection and social distancing
We can be more lenient in outdoor events. Here’s to many of those over the coming months!

Have you also returned to face-to-face networking events? If so, good luck! It will be slightly awkward at the start but it will become easier and easier the more you do it. See you out there one of these days!