“You Had to Be There”

No, the title doesn’t refer to a joke you didn’t get.  Instead, it refers to the opportunities you may be missing when you are not there in person.  In the age of technology and maddening traffic, it’s easy to get lulled into believing we are “on top of it” as we work from the comfort of our own homes.

But is that really true?  Even with regular contact via telephones, emails and Skype you are likely missing important details.  If you manage others, there are often problems employees – even managers – are reluctant to bring up.  Whether they fear looking incompetent or simply don’t realize there is a better way to do something, problems that may be costing you money – and business – are not being addressed.  As someone who ran a business with multiple locations I can attest there was no substitute for being there.

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal pointed out the benefits – and importance – of “being there”.

If you have other “work from home” suppliers, you can learn a lot about the way they work from an in person visit.  The next time you have something for your webmaster, graphic artist, copy writer or freelance bookkeeper – take it in person!  Let them know you will be dropping it by so you can chat about it for a few minutes.  Take a latte’ or tea so there is a friendly feeling to the meeting.  Then pay attention!

Engage in conversation about the challenges of working from home and ask how they have solved some of the problems you’ve experienced.  You not only may pick up a tip or two to make your work from home life easier, but you may gain insights to improve your working relationship with this vendor.

Your purpose is not to change the way your vendors work, but rather to be on the lookout for ways you can provide information on your projects  to improve the outcome either in quality, time or cost savings.

The same is true for visiting customers.  Deliver the next order personally.  Stop by with holiday cookies and ask for a tour.  The face time will make you more memorable to your customer and could put you in a position to see an opportunity for additional business.

Grab your calendar – paper or electronic – and schedule a day next week to spend “on the road”.   Take around some treats to let everyone you work with know how grateful you are for their hard work or their business.   The occasional face-to-face contact will enhance and improve your working relationships.

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