The New Model Of Business Has Its Foundation In The Past

I don’t know about you, but the more I use technology (e-mail, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.) the less I feel connected to the world I do business in. If I’m not on the cell phone, I’m checking e-mail on the BlackBerry, texting updates about meetings, and thinking about all the blogging I should be doing.

Just the other day, I got it in my mind to write a thank-you note rather than send an e-mail. When I first started in business, I always sent a handwritten note and I know that people held onto these and would even display them in their offices. There is magic in this ‘traditional’ form of communication simply because nobody does it anymore. About halfway through the note, my hand started to cramp. Then it dawned on me. The only time I pick up a pen is to write a check. Everything else is done by typing into the laptop or the BlackBerry.

So this year, I’m making adjustments. I don’t believe just because we are doing more work, we are doing better work. In today’s economy, your clients want you to spend some face time with them. It allows you to connect on a deeper level and uncover needs you might not pick up in an e-mail. Whenever I see myself slipping back into my bad ways, I think about my dad’s barber.

My father had a barber when he was a kid. He and his barber had a business relationship. My dad needed his hair cut and the barber cut his hair. During these haircuts, they would pass the time taking about life. If my dad was in the shopping market and saw his barber, he would go up and talk with him. On the way to school, my dad would stick his head in the barbershop and say hello. The barber knew when school pictures were, when a big date was coming up, aspects of my father’s life. He took a true interest in being of service to my father and having a relationship with him. That man cut my father’s hair for 36 years.

Some of my favorite vendors are the people that I have a relationship with, even when we aren’t doing a transaction. My tailor stops me when I walk by his store to ask me about my family. My accountant and I banter back and forth about hockey, and my banker always comes out of his office to say hello when I’m in to do a quick deposit. These people give me face time and I return that investment with my loyalty and in the end, my money.

2010 is the year to rekindle the ‘real’ relationships between you and your clients. It’s a competitive market and the connections you make (or lose) are going to affect your business’ bottom line. Stop typing and start connecting in the truest sense with your customers. Your time investment in them will return ten-fold with loyalty and cash flow. Communications may be more convenient online, but the offline conversations are what grow a sustainable business model.

Christopher Flett is the author of “What Men Don’t Tell Women About Business” (Wiley & Sons) and the founder of the Ghost CEO. He is a sought-after business adviser, speaker, and trainer and can be reached at [email protected].