The sky is the limit – that can be said of Southwest Airlines. Its founders Herb Kelleher and Rollin King came up with their plans for a low cost airline by sketching out their thoughts on a cocktail napkin. Herb Kelleher has said that “Many of the greatest ideas surface in bars because that’s where people cultivate inspiration.”
Meeting face to face in a bar, a coffee shop, or on a golf course are just a few of the person to person encounters that have built strong, long-lasting, and profitable business relationships. Meeting face to face is the building block of business relationships, but it is becoming a lost art for two reasons:
- Lack of planning
Technology gives us the illusion that it is easier to communicate with people than ever before. With email we don’t have to look someone in the eye and explain why their $200,000 shipment of building materials is 3 weeks late. Will a business relationship work if that email is the only form of communications utilized? What if you want to get a potential customer excited about your services? A Facebook post is no substitute for a live presentation. If I want you to hire me to train your sales team, I need to show you my training style. I need to find out what results you expect and I need to explain to you how I can help you achieve those results. Yes, it would only take me 20 seconds to email you a sales brochure. It would take you about 1 second to delete that email.
Lack of planning has led many businesses and their representatives to stop granting as many face to face meetings. Without proper planning a face to face meeting brings no value to either party. A meeting is not just sitting down to dinner with somebody new and magically you form innovative ideas. The art is in the planning.
- What is the goal of the meeting and how do I achieve this goal?
- How do I find out the needs of the person I am meeting?
- How does my expertise fit the needs of this person or business?
- How can I show this person he needs to do business with me?
Good planning helps insure that you prove you can bring value to this business relationship. It leads to more face to face meetings because you are building a true partnership that is a win for both parties.
This week before you send an email or schedule a meeting, picture two men in a bar back in 1967 planning out an airline. Ask yourself, “Will I stand out from the crowd with an email?” Or “What will I achieve at my next staff meeting?” I guarantee you will stand out and you will build true business relationships if you find ways to regularly incorporate well planned face to face meetings into your professional life. With that foundation, the sky is the limit to your potential.