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Online comms instead of facetime fail to strike business deals

Antony Savvas

Business people tempted to rely on online communications to generate business are in for a rude shock, as most clients still prefer being wooed in person.

Despite the hype surrounding social networking sites and other online platforms, they are not favoured much for striking business deals, says a survey of over 1,100 business people commissioned by telecommunications firm Vodafone.

Popular meeting places include top restaurants where clients would expect to be treated to lunch (47% of respondents) or drinks at a private members club (26%).

A third like using pubs and more than 10% still prefer to tee off a relationship on the golf course.

The research shows that although the telephone is still the most dominant networking tool - 59% use it to network - phone usage with clients has also dropped by almost a third in the space of a generation when comparing those under and over forty.

In fact, said Vodafone, the thought of dealing with clients over the phone is so daunting that almost half of entrepreneurs in their twenties prefer to try to network online only.

But the survey found that 20% of managing directors would not do business with anyone they had not met face to face, and over a quarter would refuse business to anyone they had not at least spoken to over the phone.

Only a third have successfully managed to secure business using e-mail alone.

Kyle Whitehill, director of enterprise at Vodafone UK, said, "Online networking is a huge phenomenon and one that will no doubt have an impact on some in the way they communicate and market themselves.

"When it comes to the basics of winning and keeping business however, embracing all the various networking options may strike a better balance for business success."





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