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When did a handshake become a keystroke?

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I have built a 25-year career on business development, nurturing new contacts, the satisfactory evolution from business acquaintance to friend. Yes, our goal is to still meet with people or at least talk to other humans to build a relationship, even though the technology gatekeeper can make it increasingly difficult day by day.

I hate this phrase, but ”back in the day” there was a true rhythm to building relationships. You could actually identify and personally seek out new business contacts by calling on them at their place of work. The most important notes to this rhythm were the personal meetings and presentations. Body language counted instead of implied email tone or capital letters. Relationships were formed through commitment, eye contact and a firm handshake versus cc’s, a digital signature or a social media invite.

That ability to communicate and sense culture firsthand and to bond at direct levels was exciting.  My fear is that the soft art of building relationships, especially in a service driven model, is rapidly becoming a lost art. Now as leaders it is our job to look to solutions and not just bitch and moan. You probably ask do I have any? There are always solutions and compromises; however, some depend on the willingness of the other half of the relationship to want to engage or dare I say, commit to a relationship. We use alternatives like Skype, Go-to-Meeting sessions and even Facetime to make more personal connections. It’s really just about being open to forging new collaborations for solving problems and launching new ventures ­– the very core of relationship building – and not being so quick to hit delete. Knowing the person behind the profile is one of the best parts of engaging new business partners.

So, be open! – Keep the keystrokes in check and just think how many less carpel tunnel cases there might be – a handshake was never cited as an ergonomic risk.

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