How things have changed! I'm old school. Okay I'll be real: I'm older than most entrepreneurs who are starting out. But I'm not one to dwell on how things were. I love being able to access information so readily. My ability to communicate with people around the world at the touch of a button informs my business at every turn. Students from more than 30 countries have taken my course. My employees live in seven different states. I text message my eldest daughter, who works for me remotely, regularly. I make myself available through multiple social media channels. At the end of the day, it's that much easier to move a project along.

Are we really that connected, though? Sometimes I'm not so sure. I rediscovered how much it means to make the effort to meet someone face-to-face this year. I've been on the road a lot. And I've come to the conclusion that when it's possible to get so much done from afar, the value of meeting people face-to-face is even higher.

You can pick up the phone, sure. You can send an email introducing yourself. Using Skype to conduct meetings is so efficient. I've signed licensing agreements without meeting anyone in person. Doing business is totally possible without making eye contact.

But if you truly want to build a long lasting relationship with someone, you have to meet him face-to-face. That's the best reason to take a business trip, in my opinion. There's nothing like the bond that's created when you spend the time and money to meet someone. It helps you understand the person as an individual. You get a glimpse into their world. My team got together for the first time just recently. It was, in a word, incredible. I felt proud. I also recently flew out to Florida to meet a potential customer. I looked up the employees on LinkedIn, of course. I studied the company's website. There's only so much I could really learn that way though.

But after I spent an afternoon walking the floors of their company, sitting down with them, and hearing about their products and services, I got it. And I really think that's the only way I could have grasped the potential of the opportunity at hand. I think that's always true of meeting someone face to face. You're able to size up reality much more quickly. Body language is everything. I made a presentation to someone I didn't know in Utah the other day. I knew right away we were going to hit it off. I liked what he was wearing and how comfortable he made me feel. When you're relaxed, it's easier to sell. In fact it didn't even feel like selling. We were having a conversation. I could see it in his eyes: He was interested. He leaned in as he asked the right questions.

Was it worth the time and money I spent? Absolutely. In fact I'd say it was necessary.

When did you last time make an effort to meet someone face to face? Who do you want to invest in? Who do you want to invest in you? If it's been a while, it might be a good time to think about what direction you want to take your business in. Because that's really what taking a business trip to meet someone face to face really is. An investment. Choose wisely!

Published on: Oct 27, 2015
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.