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Working for a startup can take a toll on one’s social network, both personally and professionally. It is easy to lose track of time and focus solely on the tasks at hand, hunching over your computer screen sipping your fifth cup of coffee before noon. Startups are hard work and can feel isolating especially if you are on a small team. There is always pressure from investors to prove the company is on the right track. You sacrifice meeting in person because lunch meetings can quickly turn into four-hour-long strategy sessions when you still have a deadline looming.
Before you sneak off back to your desk however, consider a research study by Meetology® Laboratory conducted during IMEX in Frankfurt in 2012. The study demonstrated that working together face-to-face generates not only more ideas, but those ideas are also higher quality and of a greater variety, compared to similar brainstorming tasks performed on the phone or via video link.
Meeting in person involves trust, which is crucial in conducting business. The key is efficiency and discipline in making those meetings as succinct and productive as possible. Having coffee (or tea) is one of the best ways to conduct face-to-face meetings without investing too much time. Think of it like building as many bridges as you can; strong enough to cross but not as time consuming as building a concrete overpass. You can always go back and re-strengthen those relationships when it proves that bridge will be used for years to come. Networking in person has many advantages whether you are recruiting your next developer, raising money from a VC, or just working on ideas to see if your business model is sustainable.
Social networking sites can feel like a replacement for the real thing, but business is really about people at its core. Product-based businesses exist because people buy them and service-based businesses are here because customers use them. Being personable and knowing how to communicate is a skill that must to be learned and then continually honed. It takes practice, and meeting for coffee with potential business partners as often as you can adds to this skill – which can help tremendously the next time you’re closing a round of funding or are trying to sell to your first customer. According to entrepreneur Rytis Vitkauskas, who helped secure a £7.9m first round funding for his startup YPlan, “I’m still convinced that no online tool can compare to the power of face-to-face human relationships.”
Are you working on your next big idea? Let’s connect on LinkedIn and talk about it over a cup of Joe. It’s on us.
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