Today is the 2nd day of my Northern California trip to visit clients. When our plane touched down at SFO, I saw a United Airlines plane at a nearby gate, and thought of a commercial for the airline I had seen years earlier. It’s a commercial that has had a profound effect on me in a business sense, and I have often shared it with my team.
After my client meetings yesterday, and as I drove from San Francisco to Sacramento, I thought about just how valuable a little face time with people is. In a day and age where we have seemingly unlimited technology tools to increase communication between clients, friends, colleagues, and loved ones, everyone seems to have less time to sit down and have an old fashion face-to-face meeting. But it is those meetings, and the time and effort spent in getting them sent up, that pay big dividends now AND in the future.
Take the Dodgers and Manny Ramirez yesterday… while no deal is done, the big news was the Dodgers and Manny’s representatives met face-to-face and by all accounts, a deal is now near. Yet since last October, there have been no reported in-person meetings and where has it gotten the Dodgers, Manny or more importantly, the fans? There is a different tone, a different seriousness, a different reality, when you are seeing and talking to someone while you look across at each other.
While nothing specific may come out of my client meetings on this trip, it is the time we get to look at one another across a table or desk, and make that personal connection that truly does matter in the end. Such meetings make people “real” and not just a cyber-personality or a voice on a phone. I believe it shows my clients that we care and are serious about working for them. How can anyone offer that sincerity if all communication is by phone or online?
As we all look for ways to make it through this economy and all of its challenges, we must LOOK at our clients, our employees, and our colleagues, in their eyes and make that connection. Those that make the extra effort and don’t rely simply on a quick email or a quick note on FaceBook or LinkedIn, are the ones who will excel now, and even more so when the economic climate warms up. The company in that United Airlines commercial may be make-believe, and the ad, originally shown in 1989 may seem dates, but the message behind it couldn’t be any more true today.
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