In today’s fast paced world of instant communication, short deadlines, e-mail, text, online chat, social media, speed networking and deal-making, I think we can all agree that the old fashioned art of relationship-building has been somewhat diminished in its importance, if not lost altogether?
It wasn’t always this way. When I started work in the City of London in the late 1970s, the senior partners would regularly disappear for lunch with clients at around 12 noon and, more often than not, wouldn’t be seen again until the next morning. And when I worked in Hong Kong in the late 1980s, I remember the most respected networkers were those who typically blocked out their lunchtimes every day to meet with people who, if not now, might be useful connections in the future. Despite how this might sound now, this investment in relationship-building usually paid off in terms of acquiring new clients, generating more revenue and increased profitability, and the expenses involved were regarded as the acceptable “cost of doing business”. To prove the point, most Governments around the world regarded these expenses as fully tax deductible, as long as you could find the receipts!
Without doubt, the long business lunch, if not a quick chat over a sandwich at your desk in between meetings, is definitely a casualty of the online age, and is now regarded as an extravagance, if not a disgraceful indulgence reminiscent of a bygone era!
These days we do business with people we hardly know, and possibly don’t even like, assuming we can get them to sign up to a water tight contract drafted by a highly paid lawyer and do as we promise. In this post industrial age, with an ever-expanding army of lawyers and standard contracts at your disposal, you can simply sit behind your computer and do business with anyone you want, almost anywhere in the world, with an electronic signature and the click of a mouse!
Until now, that is…Read More