PERSPECTIVE: Face-to-Face Business in a Digital Age

by Kim Estep If you pay attention, you can practically watch the culture of most industries within the business world going more and more digital with the use of technology. Businesses can run entire departments online, as well as keep digital records of practically everything that happens during day-to-day business operations, increasing the ease of performing in an industry by a significant amount.

With that said, however, person-to-person meeting culture has barely changed. Yes, LinkedIn makes digital networking easier and meetings can be done through video chat, but by and large, the preference of most people in the business world is to meet face to face and network using real human interactions. Have you ever wondered why this is the case?

In-Person Events Are Key

Even with the massive increase in business tech, people prefer to make business contacts the old-fashioned way. Trade shows and industry events are still as large, if not larger, than ever before and they don't show any signs of slowing down. This is because people do business with people they know, like and trust. You don't build a relationship on trust in the digital sector, you do this by meeting face to face and sharing personal experiences.

Here are a few reasons why in-person events are still king when it comes to making business relationships:

  • You can unlock new opportunities
  • You can grow your business:
  • You have a unique opportunity to build and refine your network:

A Case Study: FUBU Founder Daymond John

If you've ever watched Shark Tank, you know John, one of the most savvy and aggressive investors in the "tank". Many people know that he became successful as the founder and CEO of the young men's clothing brand FUBU, but few know the story of how he got his start.

He started his business as a young man with practically no business experience, but upon hearing about a large fashion trade show in Las Vegas where he thought he could find potential buyers, he snuck in. The connections he met at this face-to-face event took him further than any digital pitch he ever could've given. He returned home with $300,000 worth of apparel orders, including one from the department store Macy's.

The Bottom Line

Trade shows, industry events and conferences are about meeting thought leaders, peers in your industry and prospective clients and customers, as well as growing your network. For as much as the business world has gone digital, almost everyone is still in the business of making relationships, and in-person events are still the best way to do so.


Kim Estep is President and Founder of Convention Nation, based in Burlington, CT.  The organization’s website and newsletter provide useful and complete online event information to the Convention Nation, including convention reviews, conference guest speaker analysis, convention location-specific travel and planning tips, real-time event coverage and insider convention information.