Face to face networking still key for UK SMBs

Dealing with contacts in person, rather than via email or social networking, is helping UK entrepreneurs and business owners generate a potential £9.45bn revenue a year, new research claims.

Small businessmen and women may use a variety of online and offline ways to deal with clients, customers and suppliers, but many feel they do better when they can ‘see the whites of their eyes’, the study shows.

In particular, they are better able to judge a person by how they look or dress or the firmness of a handshake than anything they provide via Facebook or Twitter.

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The research was carried out by business card experts MOO, which claimed that 42% of those they interviewed felt that if they were to hand out 100 business cards, it would generate £5,000 a year or more in revenue.

They then multiplied that figure across the UK’s 4.5 million small and medium sized businesses to estimate how much is netted each year through personal contact in business.

"Social media and other technology is incredibly helpful for keeping in touch, building relationships and just reminding people you are around and what you are up to,” said Richard Moross founder and CEO of MOO.

“But if you want to win business and develop new contacts then nothing quite beats a face-to-face meeting it seems. Judging by the number of business owners who do business over a drink, at a social function or even on the daily commute, the informal atmosphere seems to encourage better networking.”

Moross added that modern business leaders combine traditional networking techniques with social networking on sites like Facebook and LinkedIn to stay in touch with a wider audience, and use these tools and others, like Twitter, to maintain a business presence online.

But when it comes to marketing, old fashioned methods work best. While 25% consider their website to be their most important tool, 32% say word of mouth and referrals are their most important marketing tool.

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