Why Face-to-Face Meetings Are Still Better Than Technology When Building Relationships

We live in a digital age where most things are now at our fingertips and technology keeps getting better and better.  The one thing that technology can’t replace is building long-lasting relationships through one-on-one connections.  A study done recently by Randstad polled workers in 34 countries around the world to ask them about technology and communication in the workplace.  Over 50% of the persons polled stated, “technology makes them feel less connected to people in the real world.  Furthermore, “over 90% believe that face-to-face meeting(s) is the best way to interact with someone.”  I’m out with business owners and CEO’s every week on multiple occasions and I can tell you that nothing replaces that one-on-one experience.  When I meet with people, that conversation starts a bonding process that helps me understand my prospects  likes and dislikes, commonalities and differences.  It’s what makes meeting face-to-face so valuable to the sales process.  

The opportunity  to physically get in front of your prospects and channel partners can open doors where technology cannot.  For example, body language can tell us many things.  When you’re face-to-face with a client body language can tell us, among other things, if the client is interested or not interested, engaged or not engaged.  With technology, even Skype or FaceTime, body language is diluted and in most cases not even present.  There are other examples as well.  One study’s findings  stated, “the lack of physical proximity decreases brainstorming and other communications that use a personal touch.”  Through face-to-face meetings, other opportunities arise and impromptu brainstorming sessions can lead to new discoveries about your client, their business and how your products and services can help them achieve their goals.

Now, by no means am I completely dissing technology.  Several technology platforms (including this one) have afforded me new ways to interact with clients that just weren’t available a decade ago and that of course can lead to opportunities as well.  I’d be lying if I said I didn’t depend on technology to help run my business, track my clients and communicate with my audience.  It’s a necessary part of your marketing and business development planning.  At the same time, there’s nothing better for building relationships than sitting down with someone to share a good meal, take in an O’s game or simply share a beer. 

Don't Forget to Build a BD Strategy!

Last week I was having lunch with a couple of friends at the Capital Grille (I love that place) and like many of you, I love to get a fresh perspective on things, especially when it comes to sales and business development.  It's the beast that feeds the engine and as we all know it's not easy.

So after the difficulty of selecting one of many tasty lunch entrees our discussion lead to strategy and our thoughts turned to the fact that in most organizations, there's usually a sales or marketing strategy but too few in business development. And I mean, a strategy behind building executive level relationships with their prospects and channel partners.  It seems easy enough, right? Yet many companies don't take the time to build out a plan that can get them in front of decision makers using multiple tactics to build solid, long-lasting relationships. It's a necessity at the highest level and in my experience I don't see many companies give it the time or attention it deserves.

Look at it this way...think about how much time and money you spend in marketing your products and services compared to the time and resources your spending on the activity to get your team in front of the right decision maker.  Is your marketing helping you develop relationships? A good business development strategy can leverage your marketing efforts to ensure you're not wasting time or money reaching the wrong people while using specific tactics to build high-level relationships with prospects and channel partners.  We all know, clients buy from people they like and trust and you can't build a trusting relationship without a good business development strategy.

I encourage you to take a look at your marketing and sales strategies to see if you have the tactics, systems and accountability in place to build deep relationships with your prospects so you too can close more business.


It's the height of summer and although things have slowed down on the networking front, there are still some good opportunities to expand your network.

Here are my picks:

Wednesday, July 18

Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) - Construction Tour & Happy Hour - 4:30pm - 7:00pm - Sagamore Spirit Distillery and Rye Street Tavern   WHY? Opportunity to meet with executives in CRE  and affiliated industries.


Thursday, July 19

-Baltimore Business Journal - Corporate Philanthropy - 7:30am - 9:30am - Martin’s West .      WHY?  BBJ will be honoring top corporate givers and Corporate Citizen of the Year.  Always a great event to mingle with the nonprofit community


Tuesday, July 24

Bisnow - Baltimore-Washington Industrial & Logistics Forecast - 7:30am - 10:30am - Four Seasons Baltimore.  WHY? The industrial market is booming in Baltimore and the surrounding area.  Hear from a great panel of local experts on this topic. Also, learn what’s next in the world of logistics and its labor market.


Tuesday, July 24

Cybersecurity Association of Maryland - July MD Cyber Breakfast Club - 8:00am - 9:30am - Secure Offices.  WHY?  Speaker Tim Kulp, Director of Emerging Technology for Mind Over Machines will be talking about AI, the workforce and how they collide


Wednesday, July 25

World Trade Center Institute - Tast of Business-Australia - 5pm - 7pm - Spark Baltimore.        WHY?  Attended the last Taste of Business and it was good. Lots of great people, interesting topic


Thursday, July 26

The Daily Record -  2018 Reader Ranking Gala - 5pm - 8:30pm - The Assembly Room            WHY?  Come out and see who the readers of The Daily Record chose in their annual reader rankings contest



Saturday, June 2 - Maryland Center for the Arts - A Night at the Oscars - 6:30pm - 11pm - Renaissance Baltimore Harborplace Hotel

WHY?  Expect high attendance of Baltimore’s executive crowd to support the arts.  Lots of great sponsors too!


Tuesday, June 5 - Maryland Business for Responsive Government - 2018 State of Business Address w/Larry Hogan - 11am - 1:30pm - Martin’s West

WHY?  This event will draw a great crowd of business owners and executives.  I look forward to hearing Governor Hogan’s address on current state of business


Tuesday, June 5- BWI Business Partnership - Annual Meeting - 6:00pm - 9:00pm - BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport

WHY?  The annual meeting always brings out a great crowd especially in that region.  The program will include an awards and recognition ceremony along with lots of networking


Wednesday,  June 6 - Howard County Chamber of Commerce - 2018 Cyber Conference - 7:30 am- 5:00 pm - Howard Community College

WHY?  Excellent event to meet and greet with cyber security professionals.  There will be two separate tracks of discussions including blockchain tech, leveraging the open source & building a talented workforce.


Wednesday, June 6 - World Trade Center Institute - Annual Women Spanning the Globe Leadership Conference - 8:15am - 5:00pm - American Visionary Art Museum

WHY?  I personally haven’t been to this event and it seems really good.  Relevant topics, lots of great sponsors. WTCI does a good job in getting a great crowd.


Thursday, June 7  - Baltimore Business Journal - Leaders in Diversity - 7:30am - 9:30am - Lord Baltimore Hotel

WHY?  It’s the BBJ’s signature minority celebration event.  Mix and mingle with the outstanding honorees and diverse attendees


Thursday, June 7 - Baltimore SUN - Business & Civic Hall of Fame - 5:30pm - 9:00pm - The Sagamore Pendry Baltimore

WHY? It’s the SUN’s 3rd annual event honoring individuals who have spent their lives for the betterment of Maryland.  Very powerful honorees so the attendance should be excellent and they have some great corporate sponsors as well.


Tuesday, June 26 - Baltimore County Chamber of Commerce - Annual Celebration & Board Swearing-In Ceremony - 5:30pm - 7:30pm - Venue TBA

WHY?  BCCC annual event will bring out a good corporate and executive crowd.  Excellent networking at a reasonable price


Wednesday, June 27 - Bisnow - Baltimore Multifamily Boom - 7:30am - 10:30am - Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore

WHY?  Interesting topic and one that many are talking about in the city.  Excellent speakers and sponsors. Likely to draw good CRE & investor crowd


Networking TIP:

One question I get asked a lot is where I like to network, hence this newsletter.  But there’s another way to look at great places to network and that is meeting places.  The next time you set a morning meeting with a referral partner, friend or potential client consider meeting at one of the many breakfast “hotspots” around Baltimore.  I’m sure everyone has their favorite spots like me and it’s a great way to meet new people, connect with old friends and further develop relationships. I always tend to get to my hotspots an hour or so before my morning meeting  so I can do some work and network while I’m there. Some of my favorite hotspots for coffee around Baltimore are: Stone Mill Cafe (Timonium), Order & Chaos & Southside Diner (Locust Point), Spoons (Fed Hill), Cunningham’s & Towson Diner (Towson), Werner’s (CBD), Atwater’s (Canton)  and Eggspectations (Columbia). I’m sure there are many more and if you don’t mind sharing, send me a note!!

See you out there!


Wednesday, May 2 - Maryland Chamber of Commerce - Maryland Business Hall of Fame Awards - 5:30pm - 9pm - Hilton Baltimore BWI Airport Hotel
WHY?  Large crowd of regional executives, business owners & CEO’s.  Keynote: Governor Larry Hogan. 

Thursday, May 3 - CREW - Beacon Awards - 6pm-9pm - The Belvedere
WHY?  Annual awards program honoring women executives making a difference in the commercial real estate industry.  Lots of good sponsors

Friday, May 11 - United Way of Central Maryland - 2018 Young Professionals Conference - 7:30am - 5pm - Four Season Baltimore
WHY?  Large crowd of young professionals and a full day of workshops, networking, panels and presentations.

Monday, May 14 - Greater Baltimore Committee - GBC 63rd Annual Meeting  5:30pm-9pm - Hyatt Regency Baltimore Inner Harbor
WHY?  Great crowd of high level executives, CEO’s & business owners.  Multiple sponsors in many different industries

Tuesday, May 15 & Wednesday, May 16 - Association for Corporate Growth - ACG Deal Forum -Tuesday, 9:30am-4:30pm, Wednesday, 7:30am - 12pm - Baltimore Marriott Inner Harbor at Camden Yards
WHY?  Opportunity to meet with middle market deal makers.  Speakers include Adam Benesch, co-founder, Union Craft Brewery and Lt. Col. (ret.) Michael Waltz

Wednesday, May 16 - Moxie Promotions - Waterfront Tech Series - 7:30am-10am - Brown Advisory
WHY?  Interesting topic and good panelists.  Discussion around blockchains as well as virtual and augmented reality

Wednesday, May 23 - Maryland Nonprofits - 2018 Member Appreciation Party - 5pm-7pm - Humanim American Brewery Building (rooftop patio)
WHY?  Opportunity to meet and mingle with nonprofit community from around the state

Building Your Network with a Pay-Forward Mentality

Almost 250 years ago, three men rode off into the night to alert the colony of Massachusetts that the British were coming to attack.  You’ve heard the tale, you probably even read the popular 1861 poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. What you may not have heard, were the other two men that rode out that night, William Dawes and Samuel Prescott.  All three men were accomplished but only one had built up such a massive network and had built such impressive relationships that he became the one we remember today. That person, of course, is Paul Revere. He was successful that night because of the strong and wide network of people that he had established and their willingness to spread the word.

I bet if you think about many of the people you know today that are successful in business you can trace that success back to their networks and a pay forward mentality.  Building your personal and professional network is more relevant today than ever. We live in a very technology-based society that makes it more and more convenient for us to communicate.  At the same time, most of that communication is via our mobile devices and yet as much as I like to use my mobile device it cannot replace the action of communicating with someone in person.  People do business with people they like and they trust. You can’t build trust and you can’t build relationships on your mobile device. It’s imperative that if you want to build your business, your personal brand and your network you need to be in front of people.

Building your personal and professional network does take time and effort and although attending networking events is a key strategy it’s not the only one.  Networking events are wonderful ways to meet new people and I attend a lot of events each month. I’ve learned a lot of tricks over the years to make sure I’m using my time effectively and efficiently and the main thing I think about before going to a networking event is having a plan, setting some goals for myself and preparing ahead of time.  It doesn’t take long and you’ll have a much better experience. Having a plan and setting some goals simply means taking a few minutes to think about why you’re there and what you want to accomplish. Are you there to meet the guest speakers? Is your goal to meet business owners and CEO’s? Did you set a goal of how many people you want to meet?  It’s a simple practice that if you adhere to it each time you go network, you’ll get better results. Preparing for a networking event is equally important and the main things I think about are my personal brand and how I represent myself, catching up on the latest local business news and how I can bring value to the people I meet. Again, simple preparation can mean a big difference.

Other than networking events, there are other ways to build your network.  One effective way is joining a nonprofit committee or board. There are few things more satisfying then working with a group of like-minded people for a cause you’re passionate about.  It’s also a great way to build relationships. Another way is by joining a referral group. Many organizations in the region offer the opportunity to join networking groups and if you can’t find one, create your own.  Another way to build your network is by joining an association in your industry or a client’s industry. Associations are very good at offering educational opportunities as well as networking events. Lastly, when you’re scheduling one-on-one meetings with clients or referral partners, meet at many of the well-known hotspots.  I’m always running into other people at some of the popular coffee and lunch spots and it’s a good way to stay in front of your audience and meet new people.

I’ve also learned that in order to build your network you need to help people.  Having a pay forward mentality is not only the right thing to do but it works. The bigger your network grows the more people you can help.  The more people you can help, the bigger your network will grow. It’s not rocket science but it does take effort and you have to train yourself to think differently.  I know of several people in my network that are really good at paying forward and they are all some of the most successful and happy professionals in their field. When I meet with someone for the first time, I’m automatically looking for ways to help them and whether it’s advice or an introduction, I know that will leave a lasting impression.  That impression and my willingness to help may or may not lead to a new client but I know that if I help them they will think of me when the time comes. And if I’m meeting and helping a few people per week then that’s a few more people that I have in my network looking out for me.

Growing your network personally and professionally takes a mindset that you should carry with you throughout your life.  Whether you’re just graduating high school, in the middle or at the end of your career, building your network should be a lifelong endeavor.  So get off your phone and go attend an event, networking group or join a nonprofit and I’ll see you out there.


Even though the weather isn't cooperating, Spring is just around the corner.  I look forward to attending some events outside!  Here are some more best picks for April.  Enjoy!


Saturday, April 7 - The Arc, Northern Chesapeake Region - 14th Annual After D’Arc Gala - 7pm - 11:30pm, Maryland Golf & Country Club
WHY?  If you’re looking for a nice night out it’s The Arc -NCR’s biggest annual fundraiser event.  Lots of great sponsors and a host of decision makers

Thursday, April 12 - Chesapeake Human Resources Association - Annual Spring Conference 2018 -  7:30am-4pm, Martin’s West.
WHY?  If you’re prospecting for HR related companies or HR professionals this is a no-brainer.  Great keynote, panel discussions along with lots of vendors

Thursday, April 12 - Baltimore Business Journal - Real Estate Builders Bash - 6:00pm-8:00pm, The Assembly Room.
WHY?  In the past, they’ve gotten a good show of brokers, builders and developers.  Plus, recognition of the best deals and top projects

Wednesday, April 18 - Maryland Tech Council - Lifetime Achievement Gala - 6pm-9pm, William F. Bolger Center
WHY?  Interesting honorees, great sponsors and unique opportunity to meet the tech and biotech crowd.  The venue's a little hike...located in Potomac, MD

Tuesday, April 24 - ABC Baltimore - Excellence in Construction Awards Ceremony - 5:00pm-9:00pm, Marriott Waterfront Hotel
WHY? Great construction event if you're targeting that industry or development.  I like that they offer just a ticket for networking

Thursday, April 26 - The Chambers of Commerce for Anne Arundel County -  Business Leaders Luncheon - 11:30am-1:30pm, La Fontaine Bleu, Glen Burnie.
WHY? Multi-Chamber event, good crowd coming to hear the Governor speak in regards to what may affect the business community



Good morning everyone!  Networking events will be in full swing for March!  There’s a lot to choose from and a lot of good events. Here are some of my best picks.  


Thursday, March 8 - BBJ CEO of the Year & Power 10, 5:30pm-8pm, Four Seasons Baltimore.  WHY?  Great selection of local leaders as the Power 10.  First time event for the BBJ.  Should be a good crowd.

Friday, March 9 - The Daily Record - Real Estate Matters, 10am-6pm, BWI Hilton.  WHY? All-day event including panel discussions and awards event for good price.  Focus is on residential real estate.

Tuesday, March 13 - Leadership Howard County - The Big Event, 11am-1pm, Turf Valley.  WHY?  One of HC biggest networking b-to-b events, expected attendance is 400 with business and nonprofit being represented.

Thursday, March 15 - Technical.ly - Net/Work Baltimore 2018, 5pm-8pm, Baltimore Studios-Studio 4.  WHY?  Specific to technology companies

Wednesday, March 21 - 2018 MD Cybersecurity Awards Celebration, 5pm-8pm, Visionary Arts Museum.  WHY?  Focus on cybersecurity companies that will attract a large number of ancillary categories of business along with cybersecurity firms.

Saturday, March 24 - 18th Annual Casey Cares Galaxy Gala, 6:30pm-11pm, Visionary Arts Museum.  WHY?  Great annual gala event with a good number of c-level attendees, a lot of good sponsors as well.

Tuesday, March 27 - ACG - Deal of the Year Awards Reception, 5:30pm-8:30pm, Harbor Tower Events at Legg Mason Tower.  WHY?  Premier ACG event of the year.  High level executives, great attendance. Investment bankers, corporate execs, deal advisors, etc.

Thursday, March 29 - Bisnow - Baltimore State of the Market, CRE Developments Putting the Charm in Charm City, 7:30am-10:30am, Location TBD.  WHY?  Interesting topic, good panelists, will likely be well attended by CRE professionals, developers

Thursday, Feb. 22 - Harford County Chamber of Commerce, Networking 101 with John Dinkel & Tim Foley.  8:00am-9:30am, Darlington Hall at Harford Community College.  WHY?  To brush up on your networking skills & learn some new tricks of the trade!


Networking Tip!

Keep up on the week’s local business news.  It can be a great ice-breaker and discussion topic as you mix-and-mingle, especially if you’re going to an industry-specific event.  There are a lot of great newsletters out there and you can't go wrong with the BBJ’s daily Morning & Afternoon Editions.  They're free too!



Accelerent is an industry exclusive business development platform that helps their clients grow meaningful relationships and revenue in a strategic, purposeful and efficiently managed manner.  They host 9 invite only Breakfast events each year, with an impressive keynote speaker; email Regional President Micah Damareck at mdamareck@accelerent.com if you're interested in attending or learning more.

Are you looking to grow your business in 2018?

Maybe we can help.  DBD,LLC excels in helping small to mid-sized companies fill their sales pipeline with qualified leads through strategic relationship building, sales advisory and focused BD activity and accountability. 


What's the difference between marketing and business development?

I've been asked this a lot lately, so I thought I'd post this article from Marnie Grumbach, founder of Fluent.  Even though it's somewhat slanted to professional services, I think it's a good, basic description of the two for any firm.  There is a distinct difference between both functions and as you think about capturing new business, it's important to understand how both marketing and business development work together.  By understanding their differences you can better position your staff and better develop a plan to target your prospects.  I hope you enjoy it.

"Marketing. Business Development. I hear these words used interchangeably all the time. If you want more business, everything you do to achieve that goal could be called “business development,” right? Maybe. That mindset is a bit confusing and can quickly lead to unmet expectations. If you think you need marketing or business development support, you should first understand how they differ and where they overlap.

What is marketing? Marketing is about identifying your key differentiators, developing your message and establishing a positioning within your market(s). Think advertising, event promotion, website content and building thought leadership through public relations – these are all marketing strategies (or at least first cousins to marketing).

What is Business Development? Business development is about making connections. It’s building upon the brand that you have established through marketing efforts to connect your audience to your products and services. It’s prospecting (think networking events), qualifying leads and then converting those leads into clients. Business development is all about creating relationships.

Some in-house marketing directors wear both marketing and business development hats. A talented marketing generalist with some business acumen can provide strategic advice and coaching in both areas. But the truth is that the efforts are quite different and usually require a different set of skills and expertise.

Marketing and public relations people tend to be creative. They’re usually good storytellers and know how to develop a message through a brand look and compelling marketing messages. They create new and interesting ways to build awareness for your brand. They’re scouting opportunities and thinking of new ideas. They also probably pitch stories to the media, write content and provide creative direction and/or design.

Business development people are actually selling. They go out and develop business, sometimes without realizing that they’re even doing it. For many professionals, business development takes training, coaching and a couple of steps outside their comfort zone. Whether they like it or not, lawyers, accountants, financial advisors and other providers of professional services MUST wear a business development hat. A marketing person may be great at formulating messages, but the relationship your client is buying is not with them – it’s with the advisor they have grown to trust with their business.

Where do marketing and business development overlap? The sales cycle for most professional services is longer than ever. Once you have identified a qualified lead, your marketing efforts can’t stop. Nurturing leads over a long period of time is critical for retaining top-of-mind awareness. The marketing side of lead nurturing may include sharing branded content and educational opportunities through email marketing, event marketing and social media outreach. Marketing should also provide business development with the sales tools they need to convert a warm lead into a client (proposal language, presentation training/support, slide decks, printed collateral and even branded thank you notes and gifts).  The true business development side may include personal emails, follow-up phone calls, one-on-one meetings/lunches or golfing together.

Which do you need? Marketing or Business Development? When it comes to developing a business development strategy for your firm or business, marketing is an essential piece. Likewise, a branding and marketing strategy should be built with your business development goals in mind. The two not only complement each other, they depend upon each other – but that doesn’t make them the same. As you consider your marketing and business development goals, think about where your firm currently has strengths and weaknesses. You may find that you need more exposure and new marketing tactics for generating leads. Or you might find that you have warm leads, but just need sales training to help convert them into clients."

by Marnie Grumbach

Former BBJ Publisher Launches Business Development Firm

Former Baltimore Business Journal Publisher John Dinkel has started a business development consulting firm geared toward clients in the Baltimore/Washington metropolitan area.

Dinkel left the BBJ in June to pursue other opportunities after 16 years at the publication, including 11 years as publisher and president.

He officially launched his new venture, Dinkel Business Development, this week. The company aims to help businesses identify areas for growth with services including business development assessments, planning, networking seminars and executive on-boarding sessions.

With much of today's business development strategy centered on reaching out via social media, Dinkel said he wants his firm to focus on connecting face-to-face.

"In this day and age, you tend to get lost in the social media environment," he said. "What I want to concentrate on is the relationship-building side of business development, whether it's leveraging your current contacts for networking to doing roundtables (or) working your board positions."

The company's target audience will be small- to midsize businesses in the Baltimore/Washington region as well as Frederick. Dinkel said he is looking for a cross-section of clients, though he anticipates many will be from the technology and business services industries.

Dinkel's career includes more than 20 years in the media industry, including leadership roles at news organizations such as the Daily Times in Salisbury, the Altoona Mirror, the Record in Troy, New York, Patuxent Publishing and the Maryland Daily Record. He worked for five years as advertising director for the BBJ before being named publisher.

Dinkel, a Baltimore City resident, also serves on the board of Business Volunteers Maryland and on the President's Advisory Council at Stevenson University.