I’ve just returned from a short trip to the West coast, where I was able to work from the Ogilvy PR San Francisco office. I enjoyed meeting many of my Ogilvy San Francisco colleagues in person for the first time, some of whom I’d already been working with for months. Less than a week after my trip, one of my Denver colleagues is in town this week and working from our DC office, where I met her in person for the first time. Meeting these Ogilvy colleagues from across the country has shown me that there’s really no substitute for a face-to-face meeting in building a network and enabling collaboration.
We live in an increasingly wired world in which a variety of technology solutions exist to connect us. But as much as we benefit from video conferencing, instant messaging, Twitter and the like, we must not underestimate the power of a face-to-face conversation. A 2009 Harvard Business Review study included over 2,000 businesses and found that over 95% of the respondents judged in-person meetings to be critical to building long-term business relationships. It’s understood that face-to-face meetings are critical in winning new business and maintaining strong client relationships; yet we often overlook the benefits they bring to our own internal teams. What may take days or weeks over email can be completed in a brief, face-to-face conversation. In fact, in-person meetings further strengthen our ability to connect via technology tools. As we spend our days and nights evangelizing new technology, let’s not forget the power of a handshake and a hello. Or if you’re Michael Arrington, a fist bump, head nod, or polite bow.