By: Chris Cox
As we kick off the new year, business travel for conferences and events seem to be in full swing. For me, this is an important time for a couple reasons. First I need to be careful about budgeting my time. My role on this team includes weekly (or in some cases, daily) communication with each of our clients. When I travel for an event, this work doesn’t stop, so I need to be extra careful to make efficient use of my time. More importantly, though, trade shows in particular give me an opportunity to connect on a personal level with many of the people I communicate with every day. Slack, email and phone calls are a great primer, but our business thrives on the strengths of its relationships. I always value the opportunity to connect face-to-face with our clients and partners. It’s something I really look forward too. We live and operate in a world that allows for easier and more efficient digital interaction, but I think in-person communication is still critical. So where does traditional face to face interaction fit in?
The tools available to us today have transformed business. They’ve made it easier than ever to remotely interact and work with others. These tools are democratized – we all have access to products and services that help us work efficiently and maximize the value of our time. But this doesn’t change the value of 1:1 communication. It’s impact on our clients’ success is still very real and measurable. It’s important.
Why? If these tools are so great, why is face to face still necessary? A few reasons, I think. First, you can only know someone so well via digital interactions – you complete that picture when you engage 1:1. Second, virtual communication is just that – virtual. Need a real, important answer from someone? Email, slack and phone calls work, but only if there’s a layer of accountability and trust already there. That accountability and trust is still best built in-person. Finally, humans are built to interact. We flourish in one another’s company – tech can’t replace that, entirely. (For fun, check out this Conference Call Parody – I think they nailed it!)
Here’s the deal: there’s no replacement for face-to-face interaction. In-person conversation and interaction allows for things that you just won’t get, or might miss, when you interface digitally. Being there , at least occasionally, let’s relationships grow in a way virtual communication never will match. As we continue to head down a path that relies heavily on technology, we can’t forget this.