The importance of in-person communication

Like many companies, we have fully embraced the digital workspace, oftentimes hosting Skype-based conference calls and following client activity via their tweets, blogs and posts. Not to mention, the majority of our services involve creating dynamic communication online. However, after spending three weeks in Atlanta shaking hands, passing out hugs and catching up with clients on a face-to-face level, there is something to be said about connecting offline.

As the Orlando-based partner, I often become a Bosley-esque figure, whose un-embodied voice is the only recognizable feature.  Therefore, it was a pretty big deal when Karen and I had the opportunity to set up in-person meetings and lunches with clients who had yet to put a face to a name (or a voice). Our new bookkeeper, Kim, was the first handshake of the week and let me tell you, if it hadn’t been our first meet-and-greet, I would have bypassed the shake and gone straight for a hug. You would too if you saw her Quickbook skills. After a three-hour financial tour de force, I learned a lot about our new billing process and definitely feel lucky to have Kim on our team.

Not nearly as brain-intensive as Kim’s finance 101, but just as smart are our favorite Nerds, who we met for lunch (and a meeting of course). Now to be honest, I have been lucky enough to meet this team in person on several occasions, but I’ll never pass up a chance to spend some time in their presence. In fact, despite our previous meetings, this was the first time I got to step foot into their new digs. The space is pretty fabulous and I think the next time I’m in town, I might insist that we take up residence in their loft area for a day.

Next on the agenda was a quick popover to the Alpha Delta Pi Headquarters to meet with the wonderful women of the Alpha Delta Pi Foundation. The sprawling Georgia mansion is quite a sight to behold. From the statuesque white columns to the window-encased walkway, I felt as if I was walking through history. However, the impressiveness of the architecture was dimmed by the fabulous personalities of the Foundation women of whom I became acquainted. Yes, I have sent them a multitude of emails and chatted with them on the phone quite a bit, but again I couldn’t tell you anything more than they use proper punctuation and have friendly voices. In person, they are a blast!  Beyond discussing the potential project at hand, we swapped stories about our favorite football teams, movies and books (I even went so far as to admit my love of Harry Potter World and Butterbeer).

Lastly, Karen and I headed out to meet our contacts at Stateside Capital. We’ve been dialoguing with the two women for the past three years, yet neither Karen nor I had actually ever met. The lunch, as much as I’d like to say was a business meeting, was really a chance for the four of us to meet in person. Over sandwiches, we learned more about the company and its industry, but we also developed a familiarity and a connection that emails or phone calls alone could ever forge.

Although my trip has wrapped up, I have no doubt that I will be planning many more excursions to continue fostering the personal connections with our amazing clients. Because no amount of tweets, likes or comments can ever accomplish what a face-to-face meeting can.