Business and society are funny things. We talk about the rapid pace of technological progress and how technology ultimately improves our lives (and businesses), but rarely do step away from our infatuation with technology and talk about what we lose as we continue to do things quicker, faster, and “better.” And that’s something we should do more often. Stepping away from technology for a few hours not only allows us to reflect on what we have achieved, but in my experience, it allows us to learn how to use technology better.
I was recently reminded of this while reading a blog post from Paul Gumbinner, a NYC based Executive Recruiter who often writes about advertising jobs, interviewing, and his experiences in the Madison Avenue Advertising World. I’ve sourced Paul a time or two for my post on Beyond Madison Avenue and I highly recommend reading his blog. It’s good stuff.
As a whole, we are technically more connected with each other today than in any period in history. But at the same time, I continuously find that we are much less personally connected. In fact, I often feel like we are quickly becoming almost impassive. Yes we email each other in what seems like a near constant stream of messages, participate in involved Twitter based conversations, and interact via social media, but less and less do we communicate via real personal interaction.
This is especially true in the business world where anonymous job posts are becoming what seems like the standard. As a result, we have become a society that seems to feel contacting potential employers via a phone call is rude. Furthermore when we do initiate a connection, interview with a potential employer, or even ask for advice from someone, it seems like it’s become a rare thing to write a real thank you note. And that is rude.
In the “old days” (the days before email, Twitter, Facebook, etc), we relied on three major forms of communication: personal interaction, snail mail, and the telephone. And although snail mail and the telephone seem impersonal compared to a personal meeting with someone, sending a letter to someone or making a phone call can in fact be a very personal way to communicate. Think about all the letters soldiers sent to their friends and family during the American Civil War.
Although business letters are not exactly in the same league as Civil War letters, both types of letters share many common threads; most of which stem from the effort involved in writing and sending a real letter. Compared to email, which seems to have been reduced to quick informal messages, writing a true letter takes time no matter if the letter is three pages long or three sentences long. And that effort shows; especially when it’s a thank you note to a business contact. Add in the fact that the business world is increasingly tough and guess what, that extra thirty minutes may in fact lead to great opportunities.
That being said, call me old-fashioned, but I still write snail mailed thank you notes. Yes they take time, but in my experience, they make a real impression on people.