Regardless of how many times the kids tell you you're out of step asking them to make personal calls or direct contact instead of texting , emailing or leaving notes on Facebook-you are the one who is right here.
While these methods of communication have taken over the population-the pendulum has swung too far. People hesitate to pick up the phone, or schedule face-to-face meetings.
"Social media and technology do have their place, but they are not, and never will be, a substitute for in-person interaction," confirms Michael Houlihan, coauthor along with Bonnie Harvey of The Barefoot Spirit: How Hardship, Hustle, and Heart Built a Bestselling Wine (coming in May 2013.)
Houlihan, of www.thebarefootspirit.com. adds "Your physical presence-or at least the sound of your voice-builds trust you can't even approach with a keyboard, screen, or profile image."
Having bootstrapped a business from the ground up, Houlihan knows what he's talking about. He and Harvey are the founders of Barefoot Cellars, the company that helped transformed the image of American wine from staid and unimaginative to fun, lighthearted, and hip. When they started their company in the laundry room of a rented Sonoma County farmhouse, they knew almost nothing about winemaking or the wine business. The Barefoot Spirit tells their California-style rags-to-riches story in compelling and colorful fashion, and reveals just what it takes to succeed as an entrepreneur.
"People don't just buy your product; they buy you," he concludes.
Houlihan worries that young people's dependence on virtual communication has stunted the social skills they'll need to attract customers. Through no fault of their own, they have inherited a world that provides a comfortable firewall insulating them from personal rejection-one in which they simply don't have to communicate in real time. ("Could you learn to walk if you were handed a crutch at birth?" he asks.)
Of course, in a global economy, face-to-face meetings are expensive. When clients, vendors, and even employees are on the other side of the world, it's not economically feasible to hop on a plane every time a meeting is needed. In these cases, says Houlihan, Skype is the next best thing to being there.
"Live video streams allow you to do just about everything short of shaking hands," he notes. "I have begun to use Skype frequently in my own business dealings. I love that I can make eye contact with someone who is sitting on the opposite side of the country. We accomplish so much more when we become more than 'just' an email address or a disembodied voice to one another!"
If you make the time necessary for personal meetings-if not in person, then via Skype or, at the very least, on the phone-Houlihan says others will not only remember you, but they will appreciate the effort you put forth.
Here are some of his reasons why::
The time investment shows you really care. You're better able to give personalized attention after you meet face to face.
You're more effective in general. When you're talking to someone else in real time, you can make progress in real time and solve problems in real time.
Facial expressions help get your message across and to pick up on theirs
So does your body language. "As humans and social animals, we are naturally wired to get this feedback instantly," Houlihan says. "We're also equipped to share our own feelings and attitudes through the way we stand, sit, gesture, and more. It's a good idea to spend a little time learning the basics of body language. For instance, if you know that hands in one's pockets indicate boredom or disinterest whereas leaning slightly forward indicates interest, you'll be able to respond more accurately to others and avoid sending messages you don't mean to."
And so does your tonality..
Your vulnerability shows (and that's a good thing.
"A relationship can start through text, email, or social media; in fact, I encourage entrepreneurs and other businesspeople to utilize those resources," he explains. "But in order to be lasting and dependable, a relationship has to grow in person. "
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