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The value of face time

Published: 
Thursday, February 13, 2014

I love bumping into people and finding out who they are and what they’re working on. You never know who you’re going to meet. Such encounters can be valuable: If you think about how your most important relationships began—with business partners, your spouse, with friends and mentors—the stories will almost all involve chance meetings. My curiosity about others and ability to connect with people have helped me to succeed - after all, if people don’t know who you are, they are not going to do business with you.

 

Many people think that an entrepreneur is someone who operates alone, overcoming challenges and bringing his idea to market through sheer force of personality. This is completely inaccurate. Few entrepreneurs—scratch that: almost no one—ever achieved anything worthwhile without help. To be successful in business, you need to connect and collaborate and delegate.

 

Finding ways to meet with people in the real world and build business relationships is becoming ever more important in the digital age. While in some industries it’s possible for employees to limit their communications to e-mail and, if they wish, avoid interacting with colleagues (and their managers), that’s not possible for entrepreneurs, since relationships built on trust are vital to doing business.

 

This is why I make a point of attending the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, whenever I can. The event is ridiculed in some quarters for its sheer scale: according to The Economist, 2,622 people gathered in that small town in January, including 46 presidents and prime ministers, representatives of firms with a total value of US$12 trillion on the stock market, and many celebrities and journalists. However, the very action of bringing these powerful people together makes Davos useful, even vital.