When you are job hunting, without exception, it is better to meet in person, whether it is a speculative connection with a recruiter, or a networking meeting with someone from your past, it is always better to go for face to face. Don’t let them fob you off with a telephone chat, Skype or emails (although, these are better than nothing!). A personal chat, face to face will help to get you remembered.
1 Rapport building. This is the most important reason for meeting face to face. The key point is that you can see their body language and respond to it accordingly and crucially, they can see yours. There are numerous studies showing that verbal communication is only a small percentage (as low as 7%) of total communication between people. The rest is posture, gestures, facial expressions, tone of voice and a host of subliminal messages that you are not consciously aware of. Almost none of this comes across in an email and only a little more in a telephone conversation. Skype is better, but the only effective way to communicate fully with another human being, build rapport and gain trust is in a face to face meeting.
2 You’re off the record. Over the phone or via email, the time they spare you is likely to be less and you may not hear the most important information they have. In person, once you have built rapport, they are likely to let you know more, with more depth.
3 Make use of small-talk. Most business conversations over the phone or via email are focused on solving a problem quickly and efficiently. In reality, good relationships are built when people take the time to share and learn more about each other. Listening to the other person and allowing them the time to tell you things about themselves are vital to building a relationship. This happens more naturally face to face. Find some common ground, a shared interest or just ask them questions about themselves (without turning it into the third degree!). Remember what they tell you (make a note of them somewhere) and use them next time you talk. This shows the other person that you are taking an interest and that you care about them.
4 Make an impression. You are trying to find work, you want the person you are meeting to remember you at appropriate moments. Therefore, you must make a good impression. Be able to talk knowledgably about your field – do your research beforehand (on the person, their business, the sector and anything else relevant) – and have a handful of impressive stories (true ones) that illustrate your expertise in the area. Be helpful – offer to send them a relevant article, or to put them in touch with someone if appropriate.
Personally, I love the new technologies and how they enable us to stay in touch with people freely and quickly; but I never lose sight of the fact that people do business with people. If you want someone to employ you, they have to like and trust you first. Nothing beats the effectiveness of a truly personal, face to face meeting.
If you have any thoughts on the subject, please make a comment below.