The loneliness of the long-distance communicator?

I talked in my last post (questions about technology I put to four new businesses) about the view apparently prevalent among businesswomen, in particular, that using the internet to communicate with existing and potential customers prevents them building up good personal relationships. With 10 years experience behind me of building business relationships, this view mystifies me and I’d like to explain why I think it’s just plain wrong.

The view seems to rest on the central plank that contact via email, VOIP, video conferencing, text, social networking, web form, blog comment or similar absolutely precludes real personal contact. Does the fact that you speak to colleagues (and for that matter friends and relations) on the phone mean that you don’t also arrange to meet them? Whether it’s a networking do or a jolly, going to their office or a trip together to meet a third party, you see your colleagues and clients in the flesh and in-between times use remote communications.

I think there’s also a feeling that making first contact with someone via the web has the faintly grubby feel of internet dating, or attracts a kind of snobbery. I would love to be out meeting people in the flesh all day every day, it’s my absolutely favourite thing and by far my preferred method of marketing OpenSure, but it’s simply not practical. So, we use the internet to do the networking we can’t always physically be there to do. It’s one tool among many that we all use on a daily basis, and an absolutely invaluable one for us.

I’m always shocked when I discover that someone doesn’t view the internet as vital to their business’s links to the outside world. I hope that I’m a walking refutation of that view. OpenSure prides itself on a close understanding of its clients and a good personal relationship which we base on being freely available for contact with a real human being. We find that internet comms really facilitate that for us, but they don’t take the place of getting out and meeting people. The two are not mutually exclusive.

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