A recent New Yorker article referred to a short story called “The Machine Stops.” It was written by E. M. Forster more than one hundred years ago, about people who lived underground and were entirely dependent on technology. Somehow, Forster imagined a world that sounds similar to the way we live today. There were “plate screens” that sound like today’s smart phones and laptops and there was a form of instant messaging. People lived in isolation and rarely had face to face contact.
There is a wonderful quote from the book that seems relevant to our ongoing conversation about business development and how to develop and maintain relationships. A boy in the story who lives far away from his mother says to her, “The Machine is much, but it is not everything. I see something like you in this plate, but I do not see you. I hear something like you through this telephone, but I do not hear you. That is why I want you to come. Pay me a visit, so that we can meet face to face, and talk about the hopes that are in my mind.”
A virtual form of communication, whether fictional or real, doesn’t have the same impact as a face to face meeting. We can have Skype or Facetime calls with people, but it is not the same as sitting in the same room with them. We can phone each other and have a conversation, but we might notice a degree of distraction, a feeling that the person we are talking to might be reviewing emails instead of truly listening. We all recognize how efficient texting can be. It’s so efficient that we don’t even have to include any unnecessary communication. We don’t have to ask anything personal or ease into a conversation. We appreciate the convenience of texting, but it may not be the best way to develop or maintain a relationship.
You know that I believe relationships are essential to business development. When you commit to a face to face meeting, you demonstrate that you are more invested in the relationship. There is a much higher likelihood that you will truly see and hear another person and “talk about the hopes” that both of you share. An in-person conversation will have much more depth than any form of digital communication, and there will be less chance of misunderstanding the tone or meaning of your message. In that experience of sitting with another human being, you will both create neural pathways in your brains that will connect you, not just today, but in the future. These are the connections that help build relationships and trust.
If you are ready to exchange emailing and texting for face to face meetings, you will have numerous opportunities to meet wonderful people at the CMCP Annual Business Conference on October 22 and 23. This is one of the best times of the entire year to have as many face to face meetings as you can in two days. If you have attended CMCP events, you know that the members are accessible and friendly. The conference is an ideal place to expand your network.
Maximize your attendance at the CMCP Annual Business Conference
- In the weeks before the conference, reach out to CMCP members you have met in the past and make plans to see them in LA.
- Make sure you have a large supply of business cards to exchange at the conference, even if you think other members already have your contact information.
- Schedule time to send follow-up emails during the week of October 26.
- Update your 2016 marketing plan and schedule other follow-up activities that will allow you to continue to develop your relationships.
- In the months after the conference, read CMCP emails and newsletters regularly and plan to attend events throughout the year. The more events you attend, the more face to face meetings you will have.