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Why Personal Connections Still Matter

Posted By Anna Wrisky, Wednesday, December 10, 2014
Updated: Thursday, December 4, 2014

Personal Connections

We live in a culture that spends more time communicating via email, text messages and social media than we spend talking to one another or meeting face to face. Although communicating digitally is convenient, it has major drawbacks.

Sending an email to someone is great when you need to outline a process or share documents or text. It also allows the sender and recipient to communicate on their own timeline, on their own terms. However, a personal connection is lost. I work with many volunteers, members and colleagues who I have only spoken with through email. I don’t know the sound of their voice, their hobbies or interests — and in some cases I don’t even know what state they live in. When you communicate only by email or text, small talk is lost. We may share tidbits of personal information, but it’s much more difficult to create a personal friendship or relationship in an email thread.

The best way to resolve conflict or to clear confusion is in person or over the phone.

  If a member or client is upset, give them a call to remind them you care as a company and as a person, and to remind them that they are working with actual people and not machines. Hopefully their anger will be diffused when the call clears up the issue, or when a sincere apology is given for whatever mishap took place.

Phone calls and meetings keep us productive.

  We’ve all tried to work with others via email. The problem with only communicating this way is that each email is one-sided. It takes longer to bounce ideas off one another. Miscommunication and misinterpretation is common. Make the phone call or set up a meeting, at least for the brain storming and problem-solving portion of the project. Save the emailing for sharing documents and project check-ins.

Emails and texts don’t contain emotion. And they don’t give memorable experiences.

  The short, abrupt, to the point email that you wrote from your phone to a member who had multiple concerns about their project or membership can come off as cold and disconnected. Sure, you can check it off your to-do list, but what was that experience with your association like for them? How likely are they to recommend your services to others? How likely is that member to become engaged on a committee or even renew? Even these quick little responses are a chance to sell your association membership and your services. Sell the value of being a member through their experiences of working with your association staff.

Sometimes when I have a simple question for someone, I choose to use the phone instead of email or texting. This allows for conversation and connection, and promotes member engagement! Member engagement leads to member retention. Social media, email, and text messages are all great tools and resources, but taking that extra step to really connect with members and colleagues and volunteers face to face or via the phone is also important. Think twice before hitting reply or comment; that phone call or meeting might be more beneficial to you both!

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