Business deals still need face to face

Business deals still need face to face

One in five would not do business with someone they had not met, says survey

Social networking sites are not the best way to clinch business, as the personal touch still counts for more, according to new research.

Although sites such as Facebook and MySpace are increasingly being used for business purposes such as networking, one in five managing directors and company owners would not do business with someone they had not met in person, and business is most likely to be won from a face to face meeting (57 per cent) than any other route.

More than a quarter would refuse business to anyone they hadn’t at least spoken to over the phone and only a third have successfully managed to secure business using email alone.

The Vodafone UK survey of more than 1100 business people reveals that the telephone is still the dominant networking tool (59 per cent), but phone usage with clients has dropped by almost a third (30 per cent) in the space of a generation, with email taking priority.

The thought of dealing with clients over the phone, however, is considered daunting by younger entrepreneurs with almost half of those in their twenties preferring to network online only.

Sahar Hashemi, who built the Coffee Republic chain, said: "Modern day communication tools have an invaluable role to play in business, but you can’t replace the trust and understanding that comes from a face-to-face meeting.

"It’s important to keep an open mind to new ideas but always remember there is a time to close down the internet, get out there, look the client in the eye and remember how to do business the way that works in the real world."