Friday, July 20, 2007

Meeting Face-to-face

In this day and age of email and conference calls, we often miss an important tool at work, the face-to-face meeting. (Note: my apologies to anyone for whom this is obvious, but I've found many technologists to miss the obvious before, including myself).

I was in London recently for a series of business meetings, and again realised just how important in-person can be. As we work more and more with our international offices, we immediately jump into email and conference calls with people we've never met. While this is a hard reality of business, I've found that making the effort to meet has incredible benefits and prodcutive outcomes. It also greatly improves future email and phone conversations.

A good friend of mine had an explanation for this. He asserts that our individual relationships, whether business or personal, rely on a visual image of the person. Without that image, we are less related. I haven't done any further research on this, but it feels true as I've seen personal evidence to support it.

While it would be great to have an online visual image of someone, we are probably a long way from this. Just from my experiences with video conferencing, I find it difficult to get an impression of someone I've never met (it does work if I've met them first). Also, there is no online equivalent of going to dinner or having a drink.

The facebook/myspace generation may break through this barrier, but in the meantime, I'll include face-to-face in my business relationships.

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