Top Reasons Why Face-to-Face Networking is Essential

How many times have you spoken to someone via email and felt a personal disconnect? We live in technologically advanced, social media thriving world, where much of our communication has moved online. While there are many advantages to virtual communication (i.e., email, text message, chat, virtual meetings) including convenience, scalability and the possibility for automation, often times much of this communication is immensely impersonal. As healthcare providers, we understand the importance of developing and maintaining rapport with our clients, this is also true for networking and business relationships.

Today we are diving straight in and providing you with the top and most significant reasons why your face-to-face networking is essential now more than ever.

1. Your practice does not exist only online. You have a physical business which means it is mandatory to do some networking face-to-face.  This may be for marketing purposes, to obtain clients or interact with other business owners.  In person, networking allows you to pick when, where and how to connect with others.

2. It mitigates the danger of “physical disconnection.” One of the problems associated with communicating entirely online is the possible physical disconnection from your customer base. Without seeing you face-to-face, it can be hard for others to see you as an actual person. As a “faceless recipient,” meaningful connections cannot be established or maintained.

3 – Better supports non-verbal communication. Much of our communication is actually non-verbal, i.e., it comes from facial expressions, eye gaze, gestures, and tone of voice. Mood and the underlying meaning of the message can be harder to express and interpret through the written word.

4. Easier rapport building. We create and maintain rapport with someone through the subconscious matching or “Mirroring” of their non-verbal cues. I will not go into detail about Mirroring here, but it is something everyone one does (at least to some degree) subconsciously as part of non-verbal communication. Mirroring helps the listener feel accepted and triggers a sense of recognition and understanding, i.e., rapport. Rapport builds trust and empathy. People are more likely to go out of their way to aid those who they trust, and they will usually want them to succeed.

5. It is the most memorable way to network. People will not just remember what you said, but they will remember your face and the impression you made on them in person.

6. Facilitates the expression of passion and emotion. Conversations in person allow you to be original, authentic and to inspire.

7. You obtain feedback immediately. This is and will always be a plus and is pretty self-explanatory.

8. Message customization. Though immediate and ongoing feedback (verbal and non-verbal) you can customize your message to better suit your audience.

9. Expression of personality. You can show off your personality and brand more in person than through any other way.

10. You can build LASTING connections. When you network face-to-face, you’re able to connect more with people and create a much deeper long-lasting relationship.


Top Networking Opportunities For Private Practice Dietitians

As discussed in our previous blog, networking is vital to the success of any private practice or business in general. Today we will delve further into some of the networking opportunities that are available to nutrition professionals.

1 – Find Meetup Groups Focused on Business & Health

Meetup is an online platform that allows you to find, organize and join special interest groups and meetings that are run in your local community. Business development, networking and health, and wellness, specific groups are common. Joining Meet-up groups can be useful for meeting local people who can be potential clients or referral pathways.

2 – Join Practice & Interest Groups

If you are a member of  The Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics, you have the option of joining Dietetic Practice Groups and Membership Interest Groups. These groups specialize in specific areas of interest or practice, e.g., Integrative and Functional Medicine, Diabetes Care, Weight Management and Business. Joining such groups is a way of connecting with colleagues who share your interests as well as establishing yourself as an expert in your field. They often have special discussion boards, Facebook groups, and webinars which you can participate in. We especially recommend joining The Nutrition Entrepreneurs Dietetic Practice Group. They have a specific focus on private practice, business development, and entrepreneurship.

3 – Attend Conferences & Professional Development Events

There are many local, state or nationwide conferences you can attend for face-to-face networking. The National Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics annual conference – Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo (FNCE) is held in a different state each year. This 3-day conference has many various networking events to offer. If you are looking for something more local, each US state has their own affiliate state dietetic association which usually hold their annual conference and other meetings. There may also district dietetic associations and meetings find out more by clicking here.

4 – Participate in Facebook & Other Online Groups

Online groups such as those via Facebook are very popular. There are many dietitian specific groups which you can join. Kalix EMR has its own Facebook group, click here to join.

5 – Reach out to Others Health Professionals in Your Local Area

Reach out to other healthcare professionals in your area, e.g., primary care physicians, physical therapists, massage therapists, counselors/therapists. This type of networking can take many different formats some of our suggestions include:
  • Offer to supply food for the morning or afternoon coffee break in exchange for a 5-minute presentation
  • Bring around a snack or fruit basket for their front desk
  • Suggest to be an information resource for them when any nutrition-related questions come up
  • Ask to meet out of hours to go grab a bite to eat or drink
  • Hand-out Christmas gifts or end of year thank you gifts