Often, I’m asked, “how do you build solid personal and professional relationships with people who live in different cities, states or even countries?” My response is typically something along these lines: While there is no replacement for face-to-face, in-person interactions, technology can help to bridge the divide.
Of course, technology may include the good ole telephone, a laptop, a tablet or even a high end video conferencing system depending on availability, access, connectivity and cost. And, with apps that run over VoIP or wireless data connections like Skype, Google Hangouts, FaceTime and Viber, connecting can be of little to no cost.
And, though I’ll always remain an ardent fan of the meeting, in-person, over coffee or tea, my friend, Dodie Jacobi, an entrepreneur who also mentors others (who’s work was featured in my November 2, 2014 post, “Membership Has Its Privileges“), in her April 19, 2014 piece, “Results of My Daring Challenge,” outlined how she was able to significantly grow her revenue with increasingly impressive results over a two-year period of time by meeting less frequently in person and more frequently through virtual means. She said, “…I daringly challenged myself to grow my consulting business without any face-to-face networking… In the first year, I increased my gross income by 30 percent and the second year increased my income by 40 percent – all while working less and with minimal additional overhead.”
As for me, I have had the privilege to develop real friendships with people from around the world – many of whom I’ve never met in person. One of my favorite examples is my friendship with Sandeep Kotwal of Mumbai, India. Sandeep and I got to know one another through our common interests in blogging, entrepreneurship, innovation and social media. That was nearly two years ago. Since then, I’ve met Sandeep’s wife and children via Skype; we regularly keep in touch via Google Hangouts and we always exchange ideas. Though we’ve not met in person, I feel a strong sense of connection to him; proof that relationships across the miles can flourish and thrive. (As an aside, Sandeep wrote a wonderful post for CLC.com last year about Networking in India. Be sure to take a look!)
The lesson here: Don’t let distance be the obstacle keeping you from building honest-to-goodness, authentic relationships. Click on this link for more ideas about developing and maintaining long distance relationships. And, when in doubt, write a letter!
Do you have an idea for keeping in touch with people outside of your own town? Please take a moment to leave a comment.