The most successful leaders are in the room to make decisions, solve problems, and build coalitions. They get on a plane.
There’s no substitute for being across the table from your current or future customer. Google Hangouts does not compare.
Being in the room adds considerable stress to your already strained schedule. It’s manual, often uncomfortable work. But that’s why it is valuable. Most people won’t do it. They give phone calls or Skype meetings the same weight as in-person meetings. In a world of abundant technology, people genuinely appreciate back-to-basic approaches — like looking your customer in the eye and shaking her hand.
This principle also applies to partners, colleagues, and friends.
There’s nothing that creates long-lasting relationships like being in the room when your partner, colleague, or friend is working through a problem. When you’re in the room, their problem becomes your problem. Shared problem solving, between people, leads to trust and respect — feelings that endure.
There are of course 10,000 blog posts about how to grow your digital network. Those lessons are important.
But if you are looking to grow a differentiated network over time, start by being in the room.