Service of Face-to-Face II

April 15th, 2013

Categories: Associations, Face to Face, Mentoring, Social Media


Something is often better than nothing but not always.

Take mentoring. No amount of online contact–even if you use Skype–takes the place of face-to-face meetings, at least to start off a relationship. There are companies that help facilitate online liaisons but I don’t think the outcome is effective. I’m a longtime mentor. It takes face time for a mentee to trust a mentor. To provide more than superficial guidance a mentor needs to get to know the mentee.

Bird on a bookLaura Moser might disagree with me. She wrote “Tweet Any Good Books Lately?” in The Wall Street Journal’s “The Digital Life” column. Her schedule doesn’t permit her to attend a traditional book club so she researched and addressed her opinions of a few Twitter clubs. She wrote: “If there’s one thing I like more than reading books, it’s sharing my opinions about them.” A statistic in her article tells the story: Of 84,000+ followers of a prominent club a handful actively participate.

I’ve been a book club member. One of the objectives is to meet people who share similar interests and expand your circle of friends. A clever Tweet doesn’t hack it.

Ida Cheinman, Substance151

Ida Cheinman, Substance151

Last week I heard Ida Cheinman speak in New York at the Society for Marketing Professional Services–SMPS. The principal and creative director of Substance151 gave a presentation, “Brand Engagement: Today’s Hottest Marketing Currency.” She generously shared resources and highlights of her advice to clients. Early on she recommended that we watch Simon Sinek’s video “How Great Leaders Inspire Action.” It was very good and took 18 minutes but wasn’t as valuable to me as attending her talk.Why? We all got to meet her as she introduced herself to the groups of people chatting together beforehand. We could ask questions during or after the event as we felt connected to her. A bonus: The SMPS members were welcoming to this newcomer. The outcome: An inspirational evening well worth the expense and time.

Do you believe that videos, Tweet book clubs and online mentoring are adequate substitutes for face-to-face contact?


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6 Responses to “Service of Face-to-Face II”

  1. Nick P. Said:

    I’ve always believed in face to face meetings between people whether they are in organized groups or individuals. Furthermore, I’ve always been bad at trying to persuade someone of something over the telephone, and particularly dislike conference calls, even the ones where they’ve got TV cameras going.

    I kept firmly to that position until about 10 years ago when I embarked on a complex archival research project jointly with someone living and working in Cambridge, Mass. whom I had “met” over the internet. From our email exchanges we seemed to be sufficiently “in tune” with one another that we did just fine working independently, swapping notes on the computer and never meeting.

    Finally, however, we both realized that we would work still better together if knew each other. Consequently, we both took time off and spent a day getting to know each other at that great depository of obscure colonial data, the Connecticut State Library in Hartford, which is just about equidistant from New York and Boston.

    You’ve guessed what happened! The quality of our work improved.

  2. Lucrezia Said:

    Much depends on individual personality. “Mentoring” doesn’t suit me. If I want information, I might either read and learn, or take a class where the prof presumably is an expert in a given field. Experimenting on ones own also has merit. There is much to be said about profiting from mistakes. There are way too many ignorants spouting in an authoritative manner, and all too much time wasted in listening.

  3. Jeanne Byington Said:


    You make good points—both Internet and face-to-face communication have their uses and advantages. Glad you were able to meet your Boston colleague in person and that you both benefited from the face-to-face.

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:


    One of the reasons I mentor college and grad students is that I would have saved myself a lot of time had I had a mentor when I was in college. Some students know exactly what they want to do and aren’t sure of the best path to take and a mentor can help. Others have no idea what certain jobs entail or what jobs might fit. How can they know? Members of their family may be employed in jobs that are totally inappropriate for their personalities or interests. A mentor can help.

    As for people spouting when they are ignorant, I always tell my mentees that they must be comfortable with the approach, edit, observation or suggestion I make. If it doesn’t feel or sound right, ignore. No mentor knows everything nor is he/she expected to.

    That said, having or being a mentor isn’t for everyone. Nothing is!

  5. ASK Said:

    My first job out of college was at a PR agency, and the first person who saw herself as my “mentor,” took me out for a 2-martini lunch, allegedly so I could get used to “the PR” crowd and the agency’s clients. This was back in the late 60s. I never got past the first martini, and came to realize she wasn’t really interested in being a true mentor: She really wanted me to sink like a stone.

    With the exception of one or two people (also women) who really did help (more by setting examples than mentoring), I found my own way with a few steps forward and a few more going back.

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:


    What a creep this PR person was–enough to put you off mentors, which it did!I would hope that this type of person is not accepted in formal mentoring programs that increasing number of schools, colleges and industry associations offer. Gosh.

    I took steps mostly backwards in the beginning. My first job out of college involved balance sheets and credit reports. HR overlooked my weakness with numbers because from the test I took the staff thought I could write and they needed writers. Talk about getting off on the wrong foot. I thought the idea was to get a good sounding job, which this was.

    I had unofficial mentors at certain jobs and as you did, I observed and learned from those I respected, rejecting what didn’t fit my approach.

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