According to a Content Marketing Institute and Marketing Profs study: In-person events are rated most effective B2B tactic for content marketing.

Throughout my travels as a speaker and trainer, I’ve found that 80{60023c7b1960a5fb9dae172379ca3153ba00fa4679a2b03978f428523be766b5} of professionals will admit that they dread networking, yet it’s such a vital piece of the marketing puzzle! So, I wrote this post around my own research (some is in my book about networking) and the info I pulled out of a Content Marketing Institute and Marketing Profs 2015 study, which shows just how effective in-person networking is over other forms of today’s content marketing tactics. I think many folks will be surprised by the ratings.

Why In-person Networking Delivers When It Comes to Content Marketing

It’s probably no surprise to most modern marketers that online marketing strategies such as webinars, case studies, white papers and videos are among the most effective content marketing tactics. However, it might come as a surprise that, according to a 2015 1500+ person global study by the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, in-person events continue to rank as the top most effective business-to-business (B2B) content marketing tactic.

Effectiveness Ratings for B2B Tactics according to a global study by the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs

It’s true! For the sixth year in a row, in-person events are rated as 75{60023c7b1960a5fb9dae172379ca3153ba00fa4679a2b03978f428523be766b5} effective compared to second place webinars/webcasts at 66{60023c7b1960a5fb9dae172379ca3153ba00fa4679a2b03978f428523be766b5}, case studies 65{60023c7b1960a5fb9dae172379ca3153ba00fa4679a2b03978f428523be766b5}, white papers 63{60023c7b1960a5fb9dae172379ca3153ba00fa4679a2b03978f428523be766b5}, and then videos at 62{60023c7b1960a5fb9dae172379ca3153ba00fa4679a2b03978f428523be766b5}.

People prefer content that offers the most engagement, value, opportunity and they want content that is easy to use. This is reflected by the effectiveness ranking order of the study. When we recognize this, it is not surprising that in-person events and webinars/webcasts top the list. They do so because they provide the most engagement and human interaction and can also lead to more immediate opportunities.

Misdirected Efforts

While case studies, white papers, and videos can be informative and educational, unlike in-person events and webinars, they lack interaction.

The study stated that “B2B marketers, as in years past, continue to be heavily focused on creating engaging content (72{60023c7b1960a5fb9dae172379ca3153ba00fa4679a2b03978f428523be766b5}), citing it as the top priority for their internal content creators over the next year.” Marketers are trying hard to match the engagement effectiveness of in-person events.

The study also noted “Webinars consistently rank among the top formats each year, as they provide rich content experiences and unique opportunities to engage audiences.” So what sets in-person events apart from webinars/podcasts, bringing it to the top of the list of effective business to business content marketing tactics? Well, in-person events provide certain benefits that webinars/podcasts and the other tactics do not.

Develop Trust, Share Knowledge and Experiences

Of course, the obvious benefit of in-person events is the opportunity to engage with someone face-to-face (F2F) and get a better sense of who they are, which helps in developing a solid relationship based on trust and shared knowledge and experiences. Also, when we meet someone F2F, more of our senses are engaged. We see the person and what they are wearing, hear their tone of voice clearly and can relate it to their body language. And we can give them a firm handshake and a genuine smile.

Although we have tools such as Skype to help bridge the gap between cyberspace and in-person meetings, these tools do not replace the experience of engaging with someone in person. Those who have a loved one living far away or those who are trying long-distance dating can no doubt relate to this. Humans are social creatures, and it is important for us to interact with others in person, not just through a computer screen or other digital channels.

It’s All About An Exchange

There are other features of in-person events that differentiate it from other content marketing tactics. In-person networking facilitates the exchange of ideas, information, contacts, and experiences and helps us to build quality, mutually beneficial, “pay it forward” relationships based on trust, support, and respect. For this reason, even LinkedIn’s policy advises us to only connect with people we already know, or to referrals from them. People usually want to get to know us first before sharing their connections, referring us, or even hiring us.

Just as a salesperson often needs to connect with a potential buyer several times before closing a sale, we need to connect with new network contacts a few times before they remember who we are and what our current goals might be.

Networking Happens Everywhere

In-person networking is not limited to business events. You never know where you might find a key contact. It might be at a wedding, church event, coffee shop, post office, luncheon or sports event. One of the biggest benefits of in-person networking is that it incorporates F2F social interaction, which makes it easier and faster to get to know someone and make a genuine connection. This, in turn, can also make it easier to generate leads, obtain referrals, source candidates or find a new job.

Another benefit of networking F2F is that if you tell a person or two what you are looking for or offering, they may circulate it to the rest of the people at the event – and beyond. As a result, you may connect with a great new contact via the in-person networking activity of someone else. How great is that?

By attending events regularly, you develop trust and solidify relationships as you connect with like-minded people because they experience your personality and integrity. The genuine connections for which you’re looking should be based on quality, not quantity. Quality-based connections are those willing to help when you ask for a favor, and vice versa.

Nurture your networkWe stand behind our services!

In-person networking should be a lifetime activity because, even if you find your dream client or dream job, there is no guarantee for how long they/it will be with you. As you journey through life and evolve as a professional, you will also need new contacts that match your new needs and interests. Continually nurturing your current connections and making new ones will lead you to new opportunities and experiences. I guarantee it!

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About me: I’m a LinkedIn-approved LinkedIn strategist and speaker, and the author of the #1 pick on the 2010 Business Book Wish List titled, “I’m at a Networking Event–Now What???: A Guide to Making the Most Out of Any Networking Event.” I help small to mid-sized businesses, entrepreneurs and corporate executives generate more leads, buzz and connections by teaching them how to use networking and social tools as marketing levers to optimize their online presence and boost the value of their professional brand both online as well as offline.

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Why In-person Networking Delivers When It Comes to Content Marketing