The Internet, i.e. cyberspace is great isn’t it? You can do almost anything on the Internet. The two greatest things that the Internet has brought into the lives of everyday users are information and communication. Whatever you need to know you can find on the Internet and whoever you need to communicate with you can do through the Internet. So I guess that would be the end of this story – if I were singing the praises of life with the Internet.
But as great as it is, the Internet is not the second coming of sliced bread. It has its limitations, especially for business owners. What? Blasphemy you say! Business owners can do almost everything in cyberspace. Note that I said “almost.” That’s what this article is about – the things that business owners CAN’T do in cyberspace, things that are still important to everyday survival and good profit margins.
Here’s a few of the most important things a business owner must do sans the Internet:
• Meet a client or prospect face-to-face, shake their hand, and break the ice.
• Sit down with employees for a casual breakfast meeting and be a good listener.
• Resolve a problem by showing up at a jobsite instead of texting or e-mailing solutions.
The first point – do you have a policy of meeting every person you do business with or are trying to do business with? You should. The excuse of “I’m too busy” or “It’s more convenient” goes counter to the very axioms of customer service. If you are the face of your business, don’t be a shadowy figure who hides behind the veil of cyberspace to stay in touch with the very people who your business depends on. Make it a policy to meet-and-greet rather that text-and-wait.
Secondly, the people who represent your business and who you depend upon deserve your undivided attention, too. You may have an “open door policy” and invite employees into your armor-plated office but that can be an intimidating experience. Although you are giving your employees access to you, it is still the “boss’s office” and that can be uncomfortable. Have a regular breakfast meeting onsite or at a local restaurant and then just sit back and let your people talk. If they want a one-on-one, go somewhere away from your office to discuss it. Put yourself in their shoes and listen to them.
Lastly, so many problems can be resolved by taking the extra time to meet eye-to-eye with people to resolve a problem. Remember, people become brazen and bold when they can type an angry response on a keyboard or phone pad. That brashness usually melts away when they can look someone in the eye and vent their feelings. I am willing to bet that most problems can be resolved in a positive manner when the two parties meet in person. These problems can spiral out of control if they don’t get immediate, personal attention. It is your business, afterall.
To be straight, I love the Internet. It is the keystone to my business as a journalist and marketer. But I am also “old school” and know that to get the best stories, I often have to leave my cave and see the light. It’s time to leave your cave too, Mr. or Mrs. Businessperson.