“I’d love to stay and chat, but I don’t have time to be your friend.” I remember when my first publisher laid that on me. I was a new transplant from New York to Nashville and I was in hurry up New York mode, not much for chit chat after business was done. His remark was meant to slow me down and to let me know I had been a little insulting by not staying to just hang out and shoot the breeze after a meeting. That kind of informal face time was part of southern culture, and part of business too.
Twenty years later, I find I’m often the one hanging out, shooting the breeze; for personal reasons and also because I’ve learned the importance of sharing personal stories, even in business relationships. So the other day I asked a potential client for some time, not even face time, just a little phone time. I knew if I could just speak to the decision maker and bring our team building program description to life via conversation, shared narrative and personal enthusiasm I could close the deal and book the client. Nada, nope…not on the agenda. The funny thing is, it’s not that the client is too busy. After all, they’re spending lots of money and time planning their team building activities. And they’re already enthusiastic about our programs. But there’s a cultural norm developing of not communicating via voice or face to face until absolutely unavoidable.
I’ve gotten on a plane before just to see a client face to face and explain exactly what it is we do. It always pays off for myself and for my client. And it’s fun to share, to meet and swap stories about music, corporate culture, our children’s shared interests, the weather, whatever!
If you can’t quite get a handle on something you’re contemplating doing (like musical team building!), or someone you’re contemplating working with, here’s an idea. Pick up the phone, set up a meeting and make it three dimensional – or at least 2 1/2 dimensional via Skype or other video chat.
You know where to reach me, I hope you’ll get in touch.