The original social media is face-to-face

The original social media is face-to-face

Today’s post is a guest post by small business expert Jim Blasingame.

By Jim Blasingame

The Age of the Customer

Ever since Samuel Morse invented the telegraph in 1844, each new communication technology has sought relevance in an increasingly noisy universe.

Today there is actual management pain from an embarrassment of riches of communication options. This discomfort is especially keen when connecting with customers electronically: Should you email or send a text message? How about IM? And when should you use one of the social media options?

But from telegraph to telephones to Twitter, there has been one constant that has retained its relevance and impact: in person connection. As I’ve said before, face-to-face contact is the original social media.

For small businesses, social media adoption has always needed to be tempered by ROI reality. And as useful as each new communication resource proves to be, they are after all, merely tools to leverage our physical efforts, not eliminate the basic human need for interacting in person. Consider this story:

A sales manager (whose gray hair was not premature) noticed the sales volume of one of his rookies was below budget for the third consecutive month. Of course, he had questioned the numbers previously but had allowed his better judgment to be swayed by plausible explanations. Now there was a downward trend.

Upon more pointed probing, the manager discovered the reason for loss of production: too much electronic contact and not enough face-to-face. The rookie was relying too heavily on virtual tools and missing opportunities to meet with customers in person.

It turns out lack of training and rubber-meets-the-road experience left the rookie uncomfortable and unprepared to ask for and conduct face-to-face meetings, like proposal presentations. Consequently, he wasn’t benefiting from how the success rate of growing customer relationships can increase when certain critical steps are conducted in person. This manager immediately developed a training program that established standards for how and when to integrate all customer connection tools, including the face-to-face imperative.

If your sales could use some help trending upward, perhaps your salespeople need training to get in front of prospects and customers, particularly at the critical step of gaining an initial meeting. Like the manager above, you may need to establish specific and measurable standards for when face-to-face meetings should take place.

Write this on a rock … Even in The Age of the Customer®, there is one connection option that has borne witness to all of the others and continues to be as powerful as ever: face-to-face.

For a short video from Jim on this topic, click here.


Jim Blasingame is one of the world’s foremost experts on small business and entrepreneurship. He is the award-winning host of The Small Business Advocate® Show, the world’s only weekday radio talk show dedicated to small business, nationally syndicated since 1997. He is also a syndicated columnist and author of two books, Small Business is Like a Bunch of Bananas, and Three Minutes to Success. His new book, The Age of the Customer®, will be released January 2014.

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5 responses to “The original social media is face-to-face”

  1. tcavey says :

    So true. nothing can replace one-on-one time.

    When I’m out I see people completely disconnected for each other. People rarely say “hi” because their too busy checking their phones.

    Face-to-face time is becoming rare. It’s something we need to get back to. It makes us more human, relate able, and increases the chance to productivity.

    • sparkvoice says :

      TC I really appreciate that sentiment. In some ways we’re “more connected” but it is a bit superficial in many regards. There is no doubt that human interaction is desperately needed by everyone.

  2. Caleb says :

    Jim you are right on! This reminds me of how my 3 yr old will come up to me while I’m doing something on the computer. He asks a question and if I don’t turn and look at him face to face, he grabs my head and tries to turn my face to his face. He values and craves my attention and wants that face to face.

    • sparkvoice says :

      Caleb – I love the illustration you use from your son. My little boys are the exact same way – they know if you’re looking! It’s the same way for me when I’m giving them instructions.

  3. Dan Black says :

    Great post Jim! Face-to-face is still the best way to communicate but social media allows us to stay connected and communicate when face-to-face is not an option.

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