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Lost Art of Face-to-Face Meetings

by Melynda Geurts

Physiologically speaking, a mental picture is worth a thousand words. So, isn’t it interesting that we’ve taken a social society by nature and applied modern technology to make business practices more efficient? And yet, we are skeptical of individuals who choose not to post their picture on LinkedIn. We instinctively want to see who we are working with.

I want to share a recent example that illustrates the importance of face-to-face meetings. I recently participated in a proposal defense with a potential client. The meeting went exceptionally well with immediate, positive feedback. The client seemed genuinely interested in pursuing further discussions with us. Up until this time, we had not met the client face-to-face. All communication had been through tele- and web-conferences. As a follow-up, the client requested a face-to-face meeting with us. Presentation of new content was not needed. The client just needed to meet us! They needed to assess our personal engagement.

When clients are evaluating a prospective vendor, they want to meet who they will be working with and ensure there’s the right “chemistry” for a successful partnership. This essential element of a relationship is unlikely to happen through Skype or FaceTime.

Case in point — we were selected as one of two finalists for a project. All interactions with this client had been through tele- and web-conferences. We had what seemed to be a strong presentation and position among the team. We didn’t win the business, however. Several reasons were given, with the biggest being that the team didn’t feel “chemistry” with our team. There are no guarantees that we would have won the business had we met in person, but it would have significantly increased our odds. Trust and credibility are much easier to obtain when you see it in your vendor.

At the end of the day, the majority of our decisions are driven by a social connection and relationship. Assurances to find both reside in maintaining what’s innate to us as social creatures.

Technology has its place. Just don’t lose site of the importance personal interaction has on business outcomes … and any relationship for that matter.

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