When businesspeople go on vacation, sometimes they have the wisdom to leave their smart phones and laptops behind. Ideally, vacation entails time spent away from today's prevalent "always connected" mentality. It's hard to decompress and relax when the cell phone vibrates with another incoming text message or your laptop beckons to check email.
Leaving the hardware behind while on vacation gives you the chance to navigate your new environment with all senses engaged. You interact with people face to face instead of over the phone. You explore back roads instead of experiencing them virtually on Wikipedia. You talk with companions about subjects that cannot be contained in an email. In short, you allow yourself a break from all those things that define your daily grind.
And what happens when you return to the office? Most professionals are glad for having had those experiences - experiences characterized by how different they were from events in their everyday lives.
But what keeps ISOs and merchant level salespeople from employing that same mentality as a business strategy? By unplugging once a week, or once a month, and conducting business as you would an adventure-filled day in some exotic locale, the results may be rewarding, both personally and financially.
Imagine this: Instead of checking email, as you do every morning, you pop in on a few local merchants and ask how things are going. Maybe on your excursion, you notice a new business just opening shop - the perfect opportunity to introduce yourself and the services you offer. Instead of communicating with a colleague via Facebook, you stop by his or her office and connect one-on-one. During the conversation, your colleague reveals a personal problem. Maybe it's not the right time to offer advice, but by being there to listen, you have just deepened that relationship; when an opportunity arises for that person to return the favor, it can be nothing but helpful for you.
Instead of talking on that cell phone at lunchtime, you eat your meal on a bench in the park. If it's a busy place, maybe you see a selling opportunity with a hot dog vendor who has a sign saying, "Cash Only." If it's a quiet place, maybe you remind yourself to bring a book to read next time.
Of course, staying connected via technology is vital to doing business. But nothing can replace face-to-face, in-person conversations and direct interactions with the real world. The best conversations are those that go off in unexpected directions. And the best experiences happen when you step out from behind your computers. By disconnecting from devices that keep us removed from actual people and actual experiences, if even for a short while, we open ourselves up to new possibilities, both in business and in life.
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