The Mil & Aero Blog
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
  Get out of your comfort zone

Posted by John McHale

We finished a one-day advisory council meeting yesterday in Amsterdam for our Avionics show and I am feeling energized by it... and no, not just because I was in Amsterdam.

I tease my brother in the investment trade about wasting money to fly across the Atlantic for a one day meeting then flying back. Why do that when you can call, email, video conference, etc.? The digital world makes it so much easier to stay at your desk.

Or as they said in my Dale Carnegie classes, to "stay in your comfort zone."

The investment guys say it's because the deals they do are so big, the airfare is a pittance. Wish that were the case for me...

Regardless, the meeting I had with the council members shows that digital tools -- while amazingly helpful to my job -- can never replace the quality of face-to-face discussion.

What they can do is make us more prepared for the meeting. I was impressed how each council member was well versed on the more than 70 abstracts we evaluated, which they received only a few days earlier.

Digital communication made that possible and made the meeting smoother through electronic spreadsheet and video tools. It enhances face-to-face meetings but can never replace the value of personal contact.

There's a reason corporate coaches tell people to make eye contact in an interview, it shows trust and gives the perception you have nothing to hide. You can't look someone eye-to-eye in an email and video conferencing isn't the same as sitting across a table.

I'm reminded of an airline commercial from about 10 years ago. In it a small company's president is lamenting the loss of his biggest customer, who said nobody ever came to see him.

So the president started handing out airline tickets of course, and telling everyone they need to get out and see each customer in person, so they know they're not forgotten.

Yes, it's a clever way to promote an airline, but its message about the value of face-to-face meetings is right on.

Whether you're in sales or journalism, get out of your comfort zone and meet your source or client in person at a show, at their company, or just for a drink. It's worth it, and it's why I think trade shows and conferences are here to stay.
 
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