Forget Facebook, face-to-face networking still best for business: survey

Businesses today might have more social networking tools than ever to help find new customers, but they still prefer face-to-face networking, a new survey shows.

Seventy-seven per cent of Canadian business managers said the tried-and-tested method of rubbing elbows and chatting in person will remain the best way to find new customers over the next two or three years. The poll of 252 managers was conducted by Regus, a provider of physical work and meeting spaces.

That’s not to say Canadian firms aren’t recognizing the growing importance of digital marketing. Fifty-seven per cent predicted a rise in the importance of social media for wooing new customers, and that’s up from 47 per cent three years ago.

In five years, businesses have seen a flurry of digital media activity in the social networking space. It’s common for marketers to advocate the use of Web sites like Facebook and Twitter to promote business sand connect with influential people. Then there’s the professionally-geared networks like LinkedIn to consider, too. LinkedIn now counts more than 5 million Canadian users.

Though still a big majority, less businesses consider face-to-face networking important compared to three years ago. Then, 84 per cent of businesses named it the most important way to network.

Other top channels to find new customers included online advertising (54 per cent), public speaking at key events (44 per cent), and hiring well-connected salespeople (31 per cent).

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