“I just can’t do it. Walking into a room of people and talking to strangers brings me out in a cold sweat. I’d rather stick to LinkedIn and communicate online.”

It’s a familiar feeling. Networking may seem like a dated way of meeting other business people when there’s faster, maybe slicker ways of getting in front of a potential new client. But good old fashioned face-to-face contact does still have its place in this fast-paced multi-platform, online dominated world.

I use LinkedIn myself and have earned some invaluable contacts through it and do love to see the updates of the people I’m connected to.

But it doesn’t give me the buzz I get from stepping away from my desk, away from the business and into a room full of new people and familiar faces and just… talking.

Because that’s what networking is. Communication in its most basic form. You might not even be talking business. Just sharing stories, anecdotes, experiences and listening – that all important communication skill that is so often underrated. In my mind, face to face is still the most effective way of truly engaging with people who matter.

It’s often said that it’s the network beyond the network that brings business to your door. So while it might not seem like the conversation you’re having is relevant or “business critical”, a recommendation weeks or months down the line from a fellow networker could lead to business from the most unexpected of sources.

Our challenge of course, is time. Ever time pressured, it’s easy for time away from the office to be dropped to make sure you crack through the groaning to do list. But to “break state” and get away from the desk and remind yourself why you’re great at what you do in a room full of people can be the most efficient and powerful item on your list today.

My advice? Don’t get caught in the trap of staying chained to your desk. Get out, meet new people and make opportunities happen. It could be the most productive hours of your working week.

Take a look at events from Bradford Chamber or TheBusinessDesk.com to see where you could spend yours.