There is a wealth of technology available to us today that allows us to easily run our businesses and interact with customers remotely. Between the telephone, email, web meeting, web cams, etc. – most things can get done and meetings can occur even when people are scattered disparately all over the country. We successfully hold conference calls, deploy software, troubleshoot problems – you name it – we can do it and we do it well.
That said, there is something to be said still for the in person meeting. I have many strong relationships with clients that I have never met in person. Some I speak to almost daily and feel that I know them like old friends. When you finally meet these “old friends” in person, something changes.
You know how watching the first Harry Potter movie changed the characters you read in the book? Your mental picture of the person you have come to known evaporates. A new bond is built and a different connection is formed that can only come from pressing the flesh and by making eye contact. Corny as it sounds and unlike Harry Potter, it is real and an important thing to remember when it comes to building and maintaining relationships.
Last week, I had a meeting with a longtime client in Portland, Oregon, which didn’t involve nearly as much flannel, tribal arm bands or vegan fare as Portlandia would have you believe. There were many purposes to my coming onsite, and I planned to cover many topics and subjects with the client throughout the course of the day. I knew going in that they had been experiencing an issue with our application that we’d yet to solve, and I was geared up for a lengthy discussion about the issue and likely heated debate about how it should be solved.
As I expected, the subject was broached within the first five minutes of the meeting. However, this time around, I was able to look at the problem from the same perspective as the client. I realized immediately that the way they had described the problem was not how I had understood it. Everything changed and I immediately knew the path to success. Within 10 minutes, the problem was solved and non-issue. Had I not been there… we might still be talking about it!