Rene Shimada Siegel is founder and president of High Tech Connect, a unique consulting partner for expert marketing and communications.After a successful career in Silicon Valley, she founded her company 15 years ago while juggling three kids under the age of five.When the daily avalanche of emails and voice messages gets overwhelming, it’s so tempting to retreat to my office and start typing replies and returning phone calls. No matter what industry we’re in, we’re all in the people business.
Many of my tech marketing clients are so busy that they now prefer texting to even emails or calls. I’ve received compliments on it from every woman (and one man) I’ve met with in the past two weeks.
Skype, Web Ex and audio calls are convenient and create the illusion we’re actually having a meeting -- but nothing beats the power of a truly personal, face-to-face connection. In Silicon Valley and many other places, there are few private offices. I had worried it was perhaps not professional enough for business. Facial expressions often communicate so much more than words.
What can you learn from an in-person meeting that you can’t from a virtual one? Many of my clients work in cubes and can’t have private telephone conversations with me or anyone else. But the style and color were bold, “spring-y” and made me smile. We host consultant coffees and invite a handful of independent consultants to our office in order to better understand the nuances of each professional in a relaxed setting.
This means that when I talk to them on the phone, I might not get to hear the most important information they can share: the unique team dynamics or executive’s personality quirks that would make or break our ability to match an expert consultant. Most business conversations are focused on solving a problem quickly and efficiently, while business relationships are built when people take the time to share and learn more about each other. Who knew my $60 knock-off handbag would be such a great conversation starter and deliver such a strong personal statement? We need to know what on the resume that makes each person unique.
All right, so now you’re all set with a shiny dating profile that’s garnered lots of hits from potential hotties.
You’ve winnowed through the pool and chosen your potential catch.
Now, it’s time to actually link up with “the one”—or one of the ones—beyond the digital realm and in reality.
It's always your best bet to take your Internet conversation into the real world as soon as possible before you establish a virtual rapport that can become awkward and stilted when it has to translate into face-to-face.
Over sushi or a latte or a walk around the block, my clients can let me know more -- with more color -- than they can over the telephone or in an email. That happens more naturally in person than over the phone or in an email. Small talk about a favorite team, passion for pecan pie, parenting challenges, and the other bits and pieces that make us unique and interesting. In their eyes and in their body language, we can see confidence, empathy, fear, friendliness or sincerity. I find out so much when I visit one of my clients in their office.