In a world this big, with so many of us living in it, there are a lot of people you will never meet. And even though the internet has brought us all within a few clicks of each other, the amount of face-to-face meetings possible for us in our lives is finite and low.
The good news is that getting to know someone, building trust and a relationship doesn't have to take place in person. With a video conference, you can begin, develop, and maintain a relationship--especially a business relationship--that can be as good as meeting in person, or better yet, enhance your face-to-face experiences.
When you call up a new client or vendor, there's some "getting to know you" and some business. You can hear the tone and inflection in their voice, and you can get a sense of the person by what they say and how they say it. Still, how many times has someone been totally different from how you "pictured" them when you are finally able to meet in person?
A video conference opens up more streams of information when you meet someone. Like getting together for coffee, you can hear their voice, see how they listen to you, and get a good feel for their personality. No, you can't shake their hand, but you can still look them in the eye and know them.
Blogger Chris Brogan talks about the power of social media in connecting people and bringing them closer. His example was communicating with a friend on Twitter, so that when they finally met in person, the "warm up stuff" was already covered and he felt he could easily talk to her. The thing is, he'd been "talking" to her the whole time, just not face-to-face.
Like a sit-down over coffee, a video conference connects you with that client, that potential customer, or vendor, and builds a relationship as effective as if you had sprung for the lattes. The proof is when you actually do sit down for coffee and there is already camaraderie, a bond.
But there are limitations to a face-to-face relationship. How many lunches are there in a day? How many times can someone leave the office to grab coffee? Now, in a normal work day, how many opportunities are there to log in, call in, and meet with someone in a video conference?
Whether distance is an issue or not, time will always rule our capacity for relationship building. But if you often use a video conference to connect with someone, when you do meet in person, it will seem like you had been face-to-face the whole time.