December 7, 2021


For cutting through all the digital noise, there’s still nothing like face-to-face interaction. Some people might call it wasteful to travel by for a conversation when video chat or even a phone call would do. But a video call isn’t the same, and I believe that meeting in person can give me a decisive edge.

These days, technology is changing how we communicate and relate to each other. Digital communications tools like email, video chat, and social media are powerful tools for connecting, whether it’s with a specific person or a mass audience. It’s easier than ever to create and maintain relationships. But more is not the same as better.

Online relationships might be a little too easy. Everybody’s networks are bigger, so it’s also harder to get people’s attention. Connecting by email, LinkedIn, or Twitter is like adding a business card to an old school rolodex. Having a contact is useless if she isn’t interested in dealing with you.

Real world interactions offer a buffet of subtle but important information. Where is the counter party’s office located? How is it fitted out? How do people dress? Are they courteous? Do they seem happy and healthy? All these questions are useful for understanding who I am dealing with. By showing up in person, I can also send a message about who I am, and how I operate.

Showing up in person also helps show my commitment, and it helps new partners feel good about working with me. When I look back at my career, I am convinced that relationships have made a huge difference. Friends, cultivated over years, have steered great opportunities my way, vouched for me, introduced me to important investors, and helped me move my business forward, every step of the way.

Building a valuable network is hard work —  more red eye flights than cocktail party schmoozing. But the great thing about relationships is that they offer dividends far into the future. The more things change, the more they stay the same, and showing up in person still counts. Today’s younger generation would be wise to remember that.

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