We may peddle brand strategy and creative excellence, but we’re really in the people business. It’s all about connecting people who want or need something to the people who make it. But in the chaos of your average work day, it’s easy to focus on business instead of people. The tools of the modern office — conference calls, emails, texting, and Facetime — get the job done, but are often impersonal and transactional.
That’s why, in an age where communicating remotely through technology has become the norm, there’s still substantial and meaningful value in getting some good old fashioned face time (the kind Apple didn’t invent).
Here are five great reasons to schedule your next meeting in-person.
- Observe the natural habitat. Our job is to make our clients more successful. It’s why we’re in the room. And it’s why actually being in the room is so helpful. Understanding the context of a client’s experience — what her office looks like, where his desk is, what the lunch options are in the neighborhood — helps foster empathy and empathy is key to unlocking the insight that makes all the difference.
- More than words. Communication is so much more than what we say. Nuance and meaning are often communicated through body language. The raise of an eyebrow, a sudden nod of understanding, a smile — the only way to catch these cues is to be there in person. A lot can be lost on a conference call or Skype.
- Small talk is a big deal. Conference calls are a great tool for addressing business objectives in an efficient manner. They are terrible for creating bonds between people. People relax when they have a chance to open up and talk about themselves. Small conversations about the weather, what he’s doing for the weekend, or what she did on vacation may seem minor, but it’s how we share that we are unique and interesting. These are the building blocks of healthy relationships.
- Get clarity. Dropped calls, forgetting you’re on mute, and unpredictable technology—these are the enemies of clarity. Sitting across from someone allows you to notice whether or not they are tracking what you’re saying. And if you’re not clear on what your client is saying, it feels natural and easy to probe with questions. Bonus: it’s almost impossible to be “accidentally” on mute in person.
- Show respect. With packed calendars and tight budgets, it can be hard to schedule time and travel to see clients. Making the investment of both time and money signals how much each party values the relationship.