Do You Still Hold One-to-One Meetings?
I love watching old films from the 40’s and 50’s when men wore hats and ladies wore gloves. There was a certain style about those films that we will never see in life again.
But what I enjoy most from those old films is looking at the character’s workplaces and seeing how much things have changed. It is like watching a snapshot in time where business deals were brokered face to face, usually over lunch-time drink of whisky on the rocks either in a restaurant, or in an office over a solid oak desk surrounded by leather chairs.
‘Meet You Never’
TV drama’s like Mad Men have done a very good job of re-creating the hedonistic high pressure world of business past, and they needed that age for the setting for the whole show to work. That sort of interaction and dialogue would not work in today’s office setting.
Now in the age of Skype, smartphones, hot-desking and remote working, do we ever get the chance to sit down and have a one-to-one business meeting with our opposite number from another company, or even actually ever meet them in person during the course of a joint venture?
Business lunches and time-consuming in-person meetings have become a dim legend for many modern businesses, especially for SMEs where many of the skeleton staff are having to multi-task different roles within the company.
Our ‘meet you never’ business culture is a direct result of having to wear different hats within our working day, plus the fact that many small business owners rely on digital freelancers and short-term contractors to fill virtual roles which once were permanently staffed by real humans who lived locally, rather than anywhere else in the world.
Although we now have globalisation opportunities within many of our new businesses, for those of us who run bricks and mortar companies that serve local communities or operate within a reasonably close catchment area, the idea of private meetings and group discussions should never be dismissed as old fashioned or pointless.
Becoming isolated in your home office or in the little corner of your warehouse or workshop is not great for your mental health, so if the opportunity arises where you can venture out of your cage to meet someone in the flesh, then grab it with both hands.
You will be amazed at how much you can actually achieve and negotiate within a face-to-face meet up for an hour over lunch in a nice little restaurant in your neighbourhood. You can often save yourself more time by meeting up and agreeing a deal rather than suffering through a lengthy and drawn out battle over email for days on end. Your local restaurant will also be really appreciative of your patronage too!
Adding Back the Human Factor
Despite the paradox of globalisation, what actually moves a business forward is one-to-one discussion, debates and agreements. It is always more diplomatic for you to meet, if at all possible, and how much more memorable are you going to be to that decision maker than the two-dimensional faces they see on profile pictures?
Where modern day business has managed to minimise the human factor, we have all become too disconnected from each other. As businesses are now starting to look more inward, and many more entrepreneurs are starting smaller ventures on a local scale, we can once again start to welcome back the opportunity of face-to-face meetings.
Sealing a deal in person with actual human contact through a handshake is far more solid, final and gratifying than anything you could imagine. You can hardly achieve the same effect through Skype or over email. It is the same thing with world leaders. There can be months of virtual negotiations via party minions between countries, but it never seems as real or as satisfying as seeing the leaders actually meeting up and going into a room to discuss matters behind closed doors.
Meetings can save Money and Time
The cost in time as well as money to your business can be far less with a face-to-face meeting. If you can schedule an hour or two for a meeting, then both parties will feel compelled to finish on time with a mutual agreement that is satisfactory for both sides. A price can be thrashed out instantly, and agreed upon with the sound knowledge that you will leave the meeting with a set budget in mind, and the freedom to act upon it straight away.
Meeting up can also influence the way you work together. Having met, you can see what you both agree on, share your visions, and maybe change the way you do business together from what you had originally thought. You could end up forging a much stronger business relationship, and see that partnership lasting for much longer than you first anticipated.
The ‘meet you never’ approach to business can mean more time-consuming negotiations, unsatisfactory deals, and a disconnection that can lead to shorter relationships, and therefore less long-term business revenue.
Isn’t it better to form a pact from mutual respect gained by face-to-face encounters?
Let us know your thoughts on face-to-face meetings in the comments below…
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