Kickin’ it Old School: Face-to-Face

Today is the start of a new series about the power of old school business practices, and how present-day businesses could learn a thing or two from the way things used to be run back in the day.  The truth is, even though we live in an ever-changing world, we can still learn a lot from the way businesses used to be run before any of this technology existed.  People used to have to meet face to face, call each other on the phone, send each other things via the good ol’ United States Postal Service, and actually get to know each other on a personal level.  I would argue that the beauty of these practices has been lost on a lot of businesses, and it needs to be rediscovered and resurrected.

This morning I was trying to think about what to blog about, when I stumbled upon an old friend’s facebook status, which read:

“it’s amazing how connected one is able to be through various sorts of electronics–texting, phone calls, FB, twitter, etc– and how alone one can still feel in spite of all of these outlets…#cravingfacetimewithfriendshardcore”

This got me thinking about the world we live in today, and I think it really applies to the way businesses should be running themselves and treating customers.  So many businesses spend so much time and energy trying to find ways to keep up with all the new technology that is out there, and that is a very good thing.  But unfortunately, it can all too often come at the cost of forgetting about the importance of real-life interactions.  The irony is, face-to-face interactions are the ones that make a lasting impression and will ultimately have more of an effect on a business’ reputation.

One can look and act extremely social and connected via the different social media tools available online.  But if they do not take the time and the effort to connect with people face to face, then they will find themselves lacking at the end of the day.  Being able to connect with people in person is still a skill–in fact, I would go so far as to call it in art.

Think about people you know that are really good at this.  They look you in the eye, they make you feel like they are genuinely interested in what you are saying, they know how to make conversation, they give you a nice firm handshake (hey, I told you I was going old school here!).  Now think about the people you know who are the opposite of that type of person–they seem distant or removed from the interaction, they make you feel like you are boring them and there is somewhere they would rather be, something else they’d rather be doing.  Heck I’m gonna say it, THEY CHECK THEIR PHONE WHILE YOU ARE TALKING TO THEM (sorry, pet peeve, of which I too am guilty at times).  Which of these two types of people would you rather do business with?  Which of these two types would you be more likely to remember, and recommend to others?

The answer is so blatantly obvious, and yet, we see less and less of the first type of person, especially among people who are, say, 30-something and younger.  This is probably because we are a generation that could rely on technology such as AOL Instant Messenger, Facebook, etc. to communicate with people rather than confront and talk to them in real life.  What a shame.  Well I’m here to say that this does not have to be a lost art.  People of any age, particularly those who are working in business, but really anyone who works with people, could benefit from trying to improve their ability to interact face to face.  Let’s turn this trend around and bring back those social skills.  The world will be better for it, and I would bet that our businesses would see some very positive results as well.