Treasure your relationships, not your possessions.
A problem at one of our Thai hotels a few years ago required me to make several quick trips to visit the owner over a span of several months. As I should have expected, two other Bangkok owners heard about my visits and e-mailed to complain that I hadn't dropped by "to spend time with us." They were looking for what I call a relationship visit.
A leader devotes enormous time and energy to sowing and cultivating a garden of business relationships. The garden must be regularly watered and fed with the nutrients of respect and companionship to maintain and improve its quality. Neither you nor your company can afford to let the relationships you've planted go to seed—an all-too-common problem these days as technology strips the personal touch from our interactions. Whether the market is a difficult or a productive one, direct contact can have a huge impact on your associates and clients.
The disgruntled Thai owners were reminding me of the first rule of relationship maintenance—everyone needs face time. Notes and phone calls can buy you time, but they are only stopgap measures. To do the job right, you must get out from behind your desk and talk with your associates, partners, and customers—in person, face-to-face. Nothing less will do.
You'll find that the payback is well worth the trouble. Solid relationships are the cornerstone of success, in business as in life. In the later years ...