Conference Calls Get You Only So Far

Nothing Replaces Time Spent Together

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Doug Zanger Doug Zanger
Back in the late '80s, early '90s, United Airlines ran a campaign that touted the importance of visiting clients face to face. In it, a manager gave a short speech about the value of going to the client, and then handed out tickets to each member of his team. I actually remember the campaign well because, like all of United's advertising, it was well crafted and made an emphatic point without having to overdo it. (For the record, I've always liked United's work, but haven't been able to convert that to a real love of the airline. I'm a huge Alaska Airlines and Delta fan.)

One of the more profound things I have realized after going out on my own is that meeting face to face is, simply put, one of the most important and rewarding parts of the growth of my business. I get razzed a bit because I spend a good amount of my time on the road. But I also understand that, as a small agency in its infancy, doing these road shows may be the best thing to gain the perspective I need to do the best work I can do for clients.

I know that travel can be cumbersome, annoying and flat-out exhausting. In fact, after this last trip, I had to chill on my back deck for a couple of days just to realign my planets. I also know that my perspective is quite different than most. At this point, I look at travel as an adventure and an opportunity to learn and experience different parts of the country. On my most recent trip I had a chance to not only meet with prospective clients and the Freeplay Foundation, but I got to fall in love with the state of Georgia, I was able to meet fellow blogger Marc Brownstein in Philadelphia and I had coffee with Ken Wheaton in New York, which is always a kick in the knickers.

I'm about as far from being a Luddite as there is. Short of having an iPhone, I love using all of the technology available to communicate. In fact, I've asked Ken if I could do a blog on IM using my Blackberry Pearl. (OK. That's a stretch.) But all of the Adobe Connect sessions and conference calls don't mean much if you can't, at some point, put a face and emotion to the people you work with. The real value in face-to-face meetings, as far as I can tell, is the true, honest conversation that happens without distraction on someone's own turf. Travel will get the best of me at some point. But for now, it is one of the most valuable parts of learning how to evolve a successful business.

Now if I could just get the other airlines to follow Alaska Airlines' lead with better frequent flyer programs.

Quick Hits

Do you travel much for your job? Do you like it? Do you hate it?

When you travel, do you try to plan other things or is it just business?

Which airlines do you like? Why?
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