The value of social connections – part one

Craig McCartney

Chief Nation Managing Director

Part one of this series will look at why social connections are good for us, why B2B networking events are good for the economy and how to get the most out of networking events – from the value of human interaction through to the power of  listening – with the intent to learn and not with the intent to reply  😁

It is for individuals who organise and attend events such as these.

CWO helps to facilitate new business relationships between tech companies and the world’s leading organisations. Because of this we have created and designed hundreds of various networking events and have learned a thing or two in the process.

“People buy from people that they know, like, and trust.”
Mark Twain, 1871

This still rings true today.

In order to get to know, like or trust someone most of us prefer to do this in person.

And in this digital age creating meaningful connections is absolutely necessary for both our business and social wellbeing.

“Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don’t.”
Bill Nye the Science Guy

Social connections are good for you

A recent Harvard study proved that the single most important aspect of prolonging a happy human life is building meaningful relationships.

This Ted talk by Robert Waldinger, the (4th ) Director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development, highlights the importance of this, and includes supporting evidence.

The study tracked the lives of two groups of men for over 75 years, and now follows their Baby Boomer children. All to understand how childhood experience extends through the decades, affecting health and wellbeing in middle age.

The study highlighted how everyone claims to want money and fame.

They believe these 2 qualities are the factors for happiness. Obviously, they are all wrong.

It found that those who live longest and happiest are those that are part of communities, have strong relationships with their partners and families and have an active friendship circle.

These important relationships play a key role in keeping our ticker pumping and jumping.

I’m not saying business relationships enable you to live longer. I’m saying that in every aspect of life, we thrive and prosper through strong long-lasting relationships and communication.

The value of human interaction

Yes, technology is shaping different interactions and different ways to connect and communicate. But nothing can beat direct human interaction.

We see this at least 85 times a year at our networking events. That’s where we facilitate discussion, relationship building and new business deals by bringing together senior decision makers. For an evening of engaging business content, fine dining, education, competition and peer-to-peer networking.

B2B networking events are a vital part of any successful business strategy.

Digital marketing techniques and channels are used as an integral part of the attendee generation, lead nurturing and confirmation processes.

And without it, you never get the opportunity to build a relationship or get in front of the right audience.

Some prospects just aren’t going to download your marketing assets. Others won’t have the time to meet your business development teams. However, they might come to an event – if they feel it’s useful for them. Especially if that event has all the makings of a memorable B2B experience, namely great speakers, a brilliant theme, a 5-star venue and entertaining experiences. Carefully created to stand out from the millions of other event invitations your target audience are receiving.

Learn from your peers

Content is king when it comes to events. We are programmed to consume information and if the theme and event information is useful to the intended audience they will come to learn.

Business leaders are tasked with growing and influencing positive change at their organisations. To do this they need to either be creative geniuses or they need to learn from their peers. What has worked, what hasn’t and what their options are.

B2B networking events are a platform for leaders and influencers to come together share ideas, insight and real-life experiences with like-minded individuals.

And sometimes, there is someone in the room who can offer you a solution – be it an idea or a product – to these challenges.

There are nuances in human interaction which can only really be understood when you’re standing face to face with someone.

This subtle and useful information cannot be gleaned from an email or a blog.

In any networking situation be prepared and know why you are there. We would recommend having your 30-second pitch ready but always be prepared to listen and learn.

Face-to-face works better

A client at a recent Chief Wine Officer event said to me: “There is over £10 Million of pipeline sitting in this room right now.”

Observations like that cannot be said when reporting to your boss about your amazing email open rates.

Marketing teams working for technology companies are under pressure to deliver pipeline for their sales teams. At an event, while 100% isn’t guaranteed to close, at least 10-20% is a fair target.

All, of course, depending on the sales cycle length and the client’s need.

These figures are good news, and a great example of seeing a networking event’s potential.

Email marketing is often quoted as the best performing channel. But a face-to-face request is 34 times more likely to succeed than an email request.

A study recently published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, demonstrated that people tend to overestimate the power of their persuasiveness via text-based communication, and underestimate the power of their persuasiveness via face-to-face communication.

Carry on with your email campaigns – we certainly will – but include some sort of face-to-face engagement in any marketing activity.

The role of building valuable business relationships is now more important than ever

You’ve heard this before, I’m sure, but Generation Z and Millennials have disrupted how we communicate and interact with just about everything.

Gen Z are spending 10.6 hours a day on their devices consuming content while Millennials check their phones 150+ times a day. This is where they shop, view content and communicate.

But they will still need human interaction in their lives. This will never change.

Good for the economy

The UK business events industry is worth an estimated £21.1 billion. This includes:

  • Conferences and meetings – £19.9 billion
  • Corporate hospitality and corporate events – £1.2 billion

*Stats from eventbrite.

And this number is expected to grow. The challenge for most agencies and event companies is how to do they constantly attract the right senior audience to their events time and time again? London and NYC are examples of cities where there are events happening constantly. The market is saturated and prospects, clients and attendees are really spoilt for choice.

So when you organise or attend one you need to make sure it adds value to your life/role/day. Networking and connecting with other your peers gives you an opportunity to learn and grow as an individual, as well as helping your business innovate and adapt to change.

We’ll be following this blog up with part two in this series where we’ll be sharing tips and recommendations on how to get the most out of a networking event and what you can do to learn as much as humanly possible from your fellow attendees.