Your attention please
Can you remember what it’s like to have someone’s undivided attention? The virtual environment is full of distractions… technical malfunctions occupy many a conversation, with external microphone noises and laggy video making it very difficult to engage fully. The environment surrounding participants is equally distracting these days… children, pets… all experiences that are not being shared directly with the other party. It’s easy in an online webinar to pick up your phone and browse the internet, check in with your instagram account or send emails and messages unrelated to the current meeting. The level of focus on the conversation at hand is seriously depleted and therefore your chance to build a relationship or close your sale is in jeopardy. By having someone’s complete attention, people are able to pick up on non-verbal clues, gain information that wasn’t necessarily on the list of prescribed questions therefore conversing more freely, forming emotional connections and forging business relationships.
There’s so much more to building business relationships than words. We gain a great deal of information about a person from their facial expressions and body language both of which can be obscured during a virtual meeting. Clients often appreciate the personal touch – the pleasantries, the going out for lunch, the trade show freebies and (hopefully soon to be reinstated) the handshake. Face to face contact makes it easier to gain trust and overcome any difficulties – together developing a shared context that is impossible to create online. Something as simple as eye contact – not easy to manage with the variety of cameras available to the virtual attendee – shows someone that you are actively listening to them, showing that their enquiries are important to you and that the conversation is worth your time and theirs. Asking questions and looking like you actually want to know the answer continues to create the trust, contributing to building a relationship that is mutually profitable. The time it takes to build a successful business relationship is markedly less when conducted in-person – just by being able to build a camaraderie, sharing jokes (previously mentioned shared context) and potentially creating memories, this relationship will be stronger.