A few years ago we hosted a new client at our offices, a wonderful woman who was launching a new product that met a real need in the marketplace.
We could have arranged introductions via the electronic world we all inhabit: We could have conferenced her in, emailed our ideas and followed up via text, and followed her on Twitter to social network our way to a working relationship.
Instead, she suggested the old fashioned approach: meeting face to face. She flew to Minneapolis meet with us on our home turf. We learned about her expertise, saw her quick laugh, experienced firsthand her wonderful wit. We brainstormed ideas together, having fun all the way. We broke bread together. We pondered approaches and made great progress. As we drove her to and from the airport, we chatted about kids and family, interests and hobbies. It was time well spent, indeed.
How often do we take the shortcut in human interactions? How many times do we send a text or an email when it would be better to pick up the phone? How many times do we send our expressions of concern when our presence would make the difference?
For another PR client, I developed media tours for a new product launch, one to the California tech market, the other to consumer media in New York. On the way, my client and I stopped at a nondescript Midwestern suburban hotel restaurant to meet with an editor of a small journal. We ate a rather bland meal while the local Rotary Club sang “God Bless America” loudly in the next room.
The editor reflected, “No one ever comes to see me.” But we did. He tried out the product, liked it and wrote a positive review, which was later syndicated in U.S. and Japanese newspapers. Our client ultimately landed a successful business deal as a result of the overseas coverage.
Face-to-face contact is powerful – sometimes leaving home makes all the difference. Never resist the impulse to communicate in person, because, when all is said and done, we are businesspeople second, human beings first.