Originally Posted by -TW
I've been asked to fly out 5,000 miles away for a business meeting. (read: to pitch what I have to a large corp.).
My question is this, what does an in-person meeting do that phone calls, etc. cannot do?
Again, I run up "against" the "human x-factor." When it comes to business, I don't see where it fits into the scheme of things (though I also see that it obviously DOES fit in with the scheme of things, ie: happens all the time).
I just see it as a colossal waste of time + $$ (from BOTH sides of the business "partner" equation).
Any thoughts on this?
You can do a lot nowadays with the phone, Skype, including video chat (either via Skype or other means)...
However, nothing can beat meeting someone in person, in my opinion.
Why? I think you get a better "vibe" about the person... A better "feel" for them.
By that I mean... Do they strike you as fundamentally honest and trustworthy? Or is there some "niggling feeling" you get when meeting them?
In a more "scientific" vein, I'd say what this is about is actually using your subconscious to assess someone. You take in much more information than you are consciously aware of, and you process a lot of that information subconsciously.
That subconscious processing can give you a "feeling" about someone - as you weigh it up against your past experiences which are all "buried" in your brain.
Now, think of the "data" involved.
- Writing involves a small amount of data - you just have the words in front of you, and that's it.
- A phone call involves a little more data - you have the words, and you also have the tone of voice, speed of talking, etc., which can all indicate emotional states.
- A video conference involves more data - all the data you get from a phone call, plus physical appearance. That gives you even more data, as physical appearance may indicate other things - such as facial expression, and so on. For example, you can sometimes tell when someone is lying from their facial expression, how often they blink, etc.
- Meeting in person offers the richest amount of data of all. You get all the data that you'd get from a video conference, plus more - you can tell if they are comfortable shaking hands or if it make them nervous, you can tell if they smell bad (or smell good), and so on. Also, people who lie tend to fidget more, and "fidgeting" would be more noticeable when meeting in person, compared to a video conference.
Meeting in person is also the only way you can use all five senses to "assess" a person... Although your "taste buds" are unlikely to come into play (usually!), you can use all the other senses of sight, hearing, touch, and smell.
Anyway, the more information you have about someone - the better the decisions you'll make! (It could even "save your skin" if the extra info helps to prevent you from working with a con artist, for example.)
You get the most direct information about someone by meeting him or her in person.
By the way, here's another factor...
Touch can also play a big role in establishing relationships between people - even just shaking hands, or a pat on the shoulder.
Human touch stimulates your body to produce oxytocin, which is the "trust" molecule - so it helps to build a trust relationship between people.
Of course, you can only "touch" when you meet in person.
So - in my opinion - there are a lot of reasons why a personal meeting would be desirable for many people.
Of course, in practical terms, in our modern day and age, there are many reasons why it may be impractical, too (such as the time and expense of travel, as you point out).
P.S. Here's an earlier post on oxytocin by Ankesh, which seems relevant here (regarding the "building trust" part) - http://www.sowpub.com/forum/showthread.php?p=22451
. By the way, there are other good posts in that thread, too!
Also, check out this article, which Ankesh linked to in that post...