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DECEMBER – JANUARY 2019 Opinion column, by Megan Thomas

With our world ever-changing and transitioning to one of electronic communication, I question what effect this will have on business networking events.

So often my generation, and those before us, are still invited to networking drinks, breakfasts and lunches, where we are encouraged to talk, hand out paper business cards and make contact with fellow business owners and entrepreneurs.

I attended a business breakfast recently where the guest speaker why physically present and I was obliged to talk and interacts with others in my local community. Looking around the room I noted those in their 30’s, 40’s, 50’s and 60’s… but none of our future generations were present and I can tell you this is not the first decade of my attendance at such events and I can bet this is the same for many others in this room. We have all been ‘getting up, dressing up and showing up’ for these events for many years and even decades now.

It begged me to ask the question: Will this form of networking exist when my children are in business?

So many companies no longer have physical business cards and younger generations communicate almost exclusively via social media platforms and electronic means. Will the success of future networking ventures be measured by how many likes it gains or new ‘friends’ it acquires rather than who we met, talked to and intreacted with at a luncheon.

Maybe the human race is just too social to let this happen, however I fear maybe this won’t be the case. I propose next time you think about doing a meeting over the phone or watching a seminar online, consider whether you attend in person and have a coffee or physically go to a seminar. I truly believe physical presence can give value to a networking meeting, a value that can’t be experiened electronically. In the words of the great C. S. Lewis: “Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art… It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival”.

Will future businesses value physical networking? Hotels, business boardrooms and cafe’s definitely hope so. And so do I, even though I fail to remember my business cards at every event!