With the COVID-19 pandemic finally waning, it appears in-person networking is squarely on the comeback trail.
While Zoom and videoconferencing remain important with remote working here to stay, meeting clients in person provides meaningful benefits. In fact, a recent study reveals the number of respondents planning on attending in-person professional events in 2023 doubled.
No matter the industry, networking plays a critical role in fostering professional development. Not surprisingly, the recent pandemic contributed to reducing networking by a significant amount. In fact, research revealed the size of professional networks shrunk by 16 percent during COVID. So let’s analyze a few data points on an expected return to in-person networking in 2023 and beyond.
Is In-Person Networking Coming Back?
Digital Meetings Not as Effective as In-Person Equivalents
A recent survey noted that 70 percent of the respondents feel digital conferences lack quality networking opportunities. The absence of in-person human interaction largely accounts for these opinions. In a related matter, 97 percent of those answering another survey prefer in-person meetings when fewer than 10 attend.
Notably, another study on this topic noted 95 percent of the respondents reported stronger business relationships are built in person. Both surveys reveal a strong preference for face-to-face professional interaction compared to a videoconference.
Some Reasons Face-to-Face Business Meetings Make a Larger Impact
Interestingly, the reasons professionals prefer in-person meetings offer a few interesting insights. One simply involves a boost in mood and morale when interacting with other professionals in the same room. Many in leadership feel this approach builds a stronger organization compared to virtual meetings. This is likely why these executives desire a post-COVID return to the office.
Other leaders note face-to-face meetings offer a greater opportunity to build and maintain meaningful relationships with clients. Needless to say, these opinions are largely driving the rebound of in-person networking in 2023.
Blended Networking Growing in Importance
Still, the videoconferencing technology in vogue during the pandemic is still making an impact in the business world. In fact, some pundits expect blended networking – a mix between in-person and virtual – to grow in relevance in business. Simply providing high-tech video conferencing equipment at an in-person event allows remote attendees to take part.
Ultimately, blended networking provides an opportunity to increase the reach of any professional conference or event. Expect to see a mix of conferencing approaches as in-person networking returns to its preeminent position in 2023.
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