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Through a screen brightly

For about a year now I’ve been focusing on working – as much as possible – with my clients via online meeting tools. These include Skype, Google Hangout, GoTo Meeting and Adobe Connect. The choice of platform has more to do with what my clients can easily use or already work with – I’m agnostic to platform.

For many of you this is nothing new – but for 90% of my clients it is revolutionary. Video conferencing – in particular – is still science fiction up until the moment we start doing it. I’ve had to gently cajole my clients – one by one – into adopting the technology and coach them through the installation and setup. They’ve all accepted with good humor though there is a tendency to push off video meetings till later in the morning so everyone looks more awake!

The revelations – and there are many – are astonishing. In my family, frequent flyer miles are a badge of honor – how much time did you spend jetting around to meetings and conferences. In previous years I easily spend an hour or three every day in the car driving to client meetings.

Why?

Meeting face to face via Google Hangout is truly amazing. You are there, with the other person. You can share your face, your screen, documents, whatever. You can meet with more than one person – you can see them come and go in the room. It works. And it’s going to get better.

I like seeing people face to face – and I don’t mind the occasional plane trip or client visit but this has been revelatory. My life is greener because of it – my odometer went from 12,000 miles/year to 3,000. All client trips. I saved $10,000 on flights and travel expenses. I made more money, got more work done, and I’m pretty sure my clients are happier. If they are stuck working on a website we just fire up a chat, share our screens, and figure out what’s going on. Instantly.

So do yourself a favor. The next time a client or vendor suggests getting together face to face for a meeting, or you start planning that cross-country flight to meet with your team, or you grab the keys to the car to head up-state for a conference … stop. Can you get them on Skype? Or Hangout? Try it. Before you know it you’ll be thinking about what color shirt to wear and what the background in your home office looks like, and if you can go ahead and sell the car.