Handshakes Versus Hardware

Dan logs on to the Internet, and soon he is chatting with someone he does not know about the challenges of snowboarding.

Dan logs on to the Internet, and soon he is chatting with someone he does not know about the challenges of snowboarding. Lauren needs a little spending money, so she drives through the automatic teller and takes out $20. Rob calls a business associate about an account, only he ends up talking with a computer through the keypad on his telephone.

Technology can be fun, quick, convenient, beneficial and helpful. But I have found that it is no replacement for a handshake, a smile or a face-to-face conversation with a person. There is no substitute for the actual experience.

Bob McDowell, president of the National Association of Metal Finishers (NAMF) and owner of McDowell Enterprises, Elkhart, Indiana, learned this early in his finishing career. He joined NAMF and the American Electro-platers and Surface Finishers Society (AESF) soon after acquiring his father's plating shop. He says he learned all the pitfalls and successes of running a plating facility by networking within these associations.

Why do the NAMF, AESF and the Metal Finishing Suppliers Association (MFSA) organize a Day on Capitol Hill every September? Because it is more effective to meet your representatives and discuss issues relating to the finishing industry when you are looking them straight in the eye. It personalizes that three-inch stack of paper (legislation) when the representatives can see a person or a small business attached to it.

Not only is personal contact good for business, but it is good for your health as well. According to an article from Creating Community Anywhere, psychologist Robert Ornstein and physician David Sobel state that human beings evolved as social animals, and our brains are programmed to connect us with others in order to improve our chances of survival. Interaction with the social world of others enlarges our focus, enhances our ability to solve problems and makes us less vulnerable to disease.

Getting together through association meetings, conferences, plant tours or consultations improves finishers' chance of survival. Interacting with others in the finishing industry enhances your ability to solve your problems and maybe help others solve theirs. You could discuss a part discoloration problem on the telephone, but wouldn't it be better if you could show the person what you are talking about?

I realize computers, telephones and electronic mail are important and necessary. But, as I said before, there is no substitute for a handshake or a face-to-face conversation; just as there is no substitute for seeing the Grand Canyon or the space shuttle Endeavor blasting off or a child taking its first steps.