Take it offline: Why face to face networking is still relevant in the digital age 8th August 2019 | IN DESIGN EVENTS | BY SBID

With the flurry of social networking sites and apps that have emerged in recent years, traditional face to face networking has taken a backseat as we continue to navigate the new, commercial environment spawned by the technological advances of our modern society. As time becomes more of a valuable commodity, we’re far more frugal with how we spend it – and let’s be honest, sending a mail merge to 1000+ leads in one fell swoop to see what sticks sounds simple and convenient enough – and can still be considered a viable and effective way to reach potential clients… But this grossly impersonal approach doesn’t always reap the right rewards and with new GDPR policies in place for storing data, relationship building is more imperative than ever.

Vanessa K. Bohns, Associate Professor of Organizational Behavior at the ILR School at Cornell University is also a proponent of getting ‘up close and personal’ when it comes to doing business. In an article published by the Harvard Business Review, she advises that ‘if your office runs on email and text-based communication, it’s worth considering whether you could be a more effective communicator by having conversations in person.’ A study in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, found 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.

The importance of face to face networking in an increasingly digital world, should therefore not be overlooked – with most of our professional communications in this day and age conducted online, SBID believes it’s more vital than ever to take things offline and carve out time in our busy schedules to establish meaningful connections, build lucrative business relationships and identify opportunities more efficiently. With the annual Meet the Buyer event, SBID aims to facilitate direct networking opportunities outside the depersonalised nature of cyberspace – with a whole day dedicated to just that!

The event works by bringing together world-class interior designers, architects and specifiers to the table, to meet face to face with the most advanced and design-led products and suppliers from around the world. Aside from the wealth of networking opportunities, back-to-back meetings and direct contact with key decision makers, the event also presents a series of business seminars for designers and manufacturers to gain valuable insight – as well as the chance to engage in discussions about key industry topics with the most respected and experienced experts in the field.

The one-day annual networking event is set to return this year on 24 October 2019 with a brand-new location in Grosvenor House, Park Lane in London.

SBID Meet the Buyer event image of face to face networking with suppliers and designers
SBID Meet the Buyer event image of face to face networking with suppliers and designers

What’s in it for you?

Generating genuine leads or sourcing trustworthy suppliers can be a time-consuming and often laborious task. With SBID’s professional network encompassing a global community of designers and manufacturers; SBID open the doors, facilitate the introductions and let you take the reins!

The event provides exclusive access to typically difficult to reach decision makers on a global scale. For Andrew Walker at John Lewis for Business the benefits seem clear; commenting on the event, he said “SBID has established a global network of design professionals across a broad range of sectors. Meet the Buyer attracts a really diverse range of people that we might not necessarily reach with other forms of marketing”.

For designers however, the event creates a relaxed and informal environment where everyone involved is open to learning from and engaging with each other in a comfortable setting; encouraging interaction and most importantly – mutually beneficial business opportunities. Zophia Amey, Co-Founder and Director of Minnie & Grouse Interiors shares her experience; “everybody is really friendly – very knowledgeable about what they do in their sector and willing to want to learn about other things that maybe isn’t particularly in their wheelhouse but could be’.

Advantages of face to face networking

  • Save time searching online for the right contact (let alone figuring out how to slide into their dm’s without another impersonal and snoozy sales pitch)
  • Build awareness and familiarity for your brand as a living and breathing entity – not just sculpted, sales driven emails or professional marketing content shared online
  • Establish personal connections and leave a lasting impression with your target market
  • Put your products at the forefront of the conversation and get direct feedback from potential clients
SBID Meet the Buyer event image of face to face networking with suppliers and designers
SBID Meet the Buyer event image of face to face networking with suppliers and designers

What makes SBID Meet the Buyer so unique?

One of the elements that make SBID Meet the Buyer so unique is the carefully structured meeting format. By pre-arranging concise, back-to-back meetings throughout the day with designers who have travelled far and wide for the announcement of the SBID International Design Awards winners, suppliers can reach a truly international clientele – all under one roof and in a very short space of time! Last year saw designers fly in from a range of countries, from New Zealand and New York to China and the Middle East. With a desire to specify and source new suppliers for their upcoming projects, not only can the event save you time, but it will also expose you to a host of new business opportunities…

“The event really exceeded my expectations, I had over 15 meetings back-to-back today! Very happy with the result” – Adam Hult, Perennials & Sutherland

A chance to engage with the Industry

Alongside networking opportunities, the event will host a series of business seminars and talks from industry experts. This year’s seminars include an insightful talk about what makes a Superbrand, as well as a revealing and honest panel discussion designed to uncover the industry’s ‘dirty little secrets’; addressing challenges such as non-payment and offering advice on how to protect your copyrighted designs post-EU exit!


It’s apparent that the benefits of face to face communication can be significant, and far more conducive to establishing long-term relationships; providing opportunities for deeper client engagement. In fact, a survey of 760 business executives conducted by Forbes concluded that a staggering 84% actually preferred business communication in person over other forms of technology-enabled interaction. Of those, 85% agreed their reason was because it builds stronger, more meaningful business relationships.

Another notable advantage of being face to face which is worth mentioning centres around the personal contact you simply cannot obtain through online communication. The nonverbal component which comes solely with physical, human encounters is touch. Author of “The Silent Language of Leaders”, Carol Kinsey Goman quotes a study on handshakes by the Income Center for Trade Shows, which demonstrates that people are twice as likely to remember you if you shake hands with them!

In light of this – and contrary to the new, global era of digital convenience, we believe investing in face to face interactions alongside other channels of communication can only add value to your marketing objectives. So, if you think it’s time to broaden your horizons beyond the constraints of a computer screen; whether you are a manufacturer wishing to showcase your latest products to professional designers, or a designer wishing to expand your catalogue of trusted suppliers with a good old-fashioned face to face, click here to find out more or register your interest.

face to face, Take it offline: Why face to face networking is still relevant in the digital age