The End of Face to Face or Phone Introductions


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Just recently I was part of an interesting discussion. My friend “Joe” (name is changed by the author) just didn’t want to even know about that impersonal online world.
I said:
If I can’t find you on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or see anything from you on YouTube or any other places, I just don’t know anything about you. If I Google you I have no way of getting to know you. I couldn’t even find a website. The only way is a phone call or F2F – like in the old days. You are NOT approachable. Doing business with you is very hard at this stage.

He said “That’s OK as long as I know enough about YOU” *smiling*

I continued:
Now – imagine you write a blog about your subject matter expertise and this blog is easy to find. You have a few photos from you and your family on Facebook, you tell the world you love Australian Syras and be a mountain biker, your two month old daughter does a new trick and on and on and on.

Now assume you announce to call me and want to propose some business. You let me know all about you by sharing your sites.
This very first call has a dynamic you never experienced before – I promise you. Because also you checked me out. Found out I have 4 kids, love to sail also like wine – but Bordeaux, you see me on a tour driving 10,000 miles with my wife in our Jeep coast to coast and back…

The stiff and uncomfortable “professional” business introduction will take a very different turn right from the get go…

He wasn’t so sure if this is all so important

I added:
Assume I have an alternative contact and connect with somebody I know all about and it feels like I know him already very well. Don’t you see your competitive disadvantage?

BINGO – that was the trigger. Hello LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter – you just got yourself a new user.

Clearly – there is no substitute for Face to Face meetings and phone calls – but it’s a waste of time and just way too risky to have a first meeting just to find out who the other person is. The best way to introduce each other is online – getting the full picture and being APPROACHABLE.


Axel Schultze
CEO of Society3. Our S3 Buzz technology is empowering business teams to create buzz campaigns and increase mentions and reach. S3 Buzz provides specific solutions for event buzz, products and brand buzz, partner buzz and talent acquisition buzz campaigns. We helped creating campaigns with up to 100 Million in reach. Silicon Valley entrepreneur, published author, frequent speaker, and winner of the 2008 SF Entrepreneur award. Former CEO of BlueRoads, Infinigate, Computer2000.


  1. Hi Axel: When Social Media is used well, it beats the awkward, “break the ice” banter of the past, and allows us to move forward quickly. Agreed. Why start on Square One when you can start on Square 16?

    But an article I read recently (don’t remember the source) stated the perils of too much information. Software developers had achieved success in predicting personal characteristics through algorithms. When used on Facebook profiles, the software was able to determine with reasonable accuracy whether an individual was gay or straight, political leanings (liberal, conservative, etc.). Imagine the power if sofware can troll profiles and draw conclusions.

    You might say “Nothing that we’re not doing already with data mining software.” But the difference is that these conclusions are made from your network of friends and from postings you make on your homepage! In either case, the individual is unwittingly providing someone else predictive insights.

    I’m interested in your thoughts on where the ethical threshhold might lie. It’s not clear to me.

  2. @Andrew – It’s a great and provocative view. I’m “out there” since 2003. My LinkedIn ID is 8216 or so, my first blog started in 2004, If you google “Axel Sch” you find me as “term” and “Axel Schultze” gets you to over 40,000 pages. I don’t mind if somebody tells me I have a 16.5% potential to be gay, most likely put no onion on hamburger and have two ears. 🙂

    When I was 12 or so I asked my father very concerned about pollution and if we are at risk to kill the earth. He smiled and said “Your great grand father was concerned that the many horses leave so much horse shit in the cities that our cities will collapse and people will leave cities…” My takeaway was and still is today:
    We have people with lots of concerns and that is great, it’s keeping us in balance. And we have people with no concern at all and that keeps us moving. Only one without the other would be devastating.

    That said, my answer to your question: “No, I’m not concerned as there is way more advantage than disadvantage, more to gain than we risk. I overcome the risk of using credit cards, using the internet to purchase things, using a cell phone, driving a car…”

    I coined the saying “Openness requires approachability”. I am very approachable and good enough is not good enough for me. So not only I’m open I want to make it easy for others to approach me, connect, find me, know about me – it is my invitation to openness. But I also don’t have an alarm on my car, often it is unlocked, I have no special gear to lock my steering wheel… since what – 30 years or so now? Wow – lucky me 🙂


  3. Axel

    An interesting perspective. Let me take another one.

    Humans have evolved over the last 100,000 years to where we are today. We continue to evolve. A significant part of the brain is given over to processing physiological symbols when we meet face to face with people. We make a myriad of unconscious judgements about the people we meet in a tiny fraction of second. They may have been the difference between life and death in the past. These judgements stay with us, almost irrespective what we discover later.

    We must not make the mistake of confusing our artificially projected selves on the Internet with out real selves in person. As the old cartoon goes, On the Internet, nobody knows you are a dog. You ONLY really get to know someone when you meet them face to face. All the stuff beforehand is just preparation. And when we do meet someone, that 100,000 years of evolution sweeps aside all our carefully researched opinions, in the blink of an eye.

    Face to face meetings are dead, long live face to face meetings.

    Graham Hill
    Customer-centric Innovator
    Follow me on Twitter

    Interested in Customer Driven Innovation? Join the Customer Driven Innovation groups on LinkedIn or Facebook to learn more.

  4. Axel: I admire your candor and openness. Clearly this is more than just Management by Magazine fluff–it’s a way of life.

    But some people must be circumspect about what’s presented on their public persona. Here in Fairfax County, VA, teachers (some of whom just graduated from college) have been reminded by administrators that the Facebook photos of their junior year road trip to Florida are accessible to their third grade students–as well as their colleagues. The social web is more like a fishbowl for the past and present: Managers and direct reports, vendors and customers, sports coaches and kids, aunts/uncles/neices/nephews–all “friended,” connected, and public in a greater community.

    Once upon a time, we could partition our different personas, but not anymore. The joke was “Well, let’s just say I could never run for president . . . ” An accompanying smile and wink usually conveyed mutual understanding of what that comment meant. Now, we don’t really need to ask–we have a Facebook homepage to check out. Happily, in many cases, it’s not a bad thing to recognize that the people we’re connected to are . . . human also! And Bill Clinton’s comment that “I didn’t inhale,” doesn’t seem so necessary now.

    Even still, many people I know who “live on Facebook,” think about who’s reading what they’re posting. In that regard, there’s no such thing as completely free speech.

  5. @Graham
    Thanks for bringing that up. I noticed a very important behavior when meeting people F2F after I developed an online relationship:
    The preconception I may experience in the first second of looking in somebodies eyes is not happening. Because I had already too many interactions with that person. Please note “interaction”. I don’t mean “research” like studying somebody’s profile. I’m sure you often experienced the “So good to finally meet face to face” effect. That’s what I’m talking about in an accelerated way. Really look forward to meet you once F2F 🙂

    You hit a very important point. YES that teacher is in more trouble than others. Because the shifting society to more openness is not a homogeneous change but a rather bumpy road for now. But don’t the kids love those teachers? – they are for real and so human. Don’t they learn much more from those “real experience” driven people that from the learning machines? I didn’t like my Latin teacher – he would never have anything on Facebook. But I loved my math teacher, who was this crazy as guy. Guess what, my math knowledge is much better than my Latin – ha ha ha. But again, you hit a great point and this is probably one of the toughest learning exercises we are going through when entering the new world called social web. Hope we can meet if you come to Silicon Valley.

    Thanks a lot for the contribution – I really do enjoy the conversation very much – despite the fact that we never met F2F 😉


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