Updated: Nov 7, 2019
The World’s Fair – then deemed the Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations- debuted on May 1851 and in the succeeding 6 months would welcome over 6 million visitors. Housed at the monumental cast-iron and glass Crystal Palace in London’s Hyde Park, 25 nations participated showcasing modern inventions such as Frederick Bakewell’s precursor to the fax machine and J.S. Marratt’s latest telescopic surveying equipment. Cultural treasures such as precious fabrics and jewels from India were showstoppers. Visitor’s senses were tantalized and overloaded by the sights, sounds, and smells of far off corners of the world.
The organizer of the event, Queen Victoria’s husband Prince Albert, sought to illustrate that through technology and commerce a better future was achievable. The extravaganza was so successful in inspiring dialogue, commerce, and the exchange of ideas that the World’s Fair became a hallmark of international business. Inventors, investors, scientists, merchants, diplomats, and the curious would gather semiannually at major cities to see and to be seen. Culminating most famously with the unveiling of Gustav Eifel’s steel architectural masterpiece in 1889, the World’s Fair was a communications marvel akin to the World Wide Web, but with handshakes.
Today’s entrepreneurs are again realizing that business relationships most go deeper than an email, like, or even a phone conversation. In a competitively innovative world composed of the western post-industrial economies, the BRIC countries, and emerging markets, personal relationships have never mattered more. That means striving to establish and cultivate a meaningful connection based on shared goals but realized through shared experience. Bennett International’s CEO Elizabeth Sawyer is in London this week to nurture Bennett’s tried and true relationships and to start new ones, person to person.
By personally getting to know each client, Elizabeth becomes familiar with a client’s particular challenges, wants, needs and goals. By putting a name to a face, not just a profile picture, the client’s concerns become more personalized.
Through mass emails it is easy to feign interest to achieve the bottom line. Through handshakes and actually meeting the client it is virtually impossible to feign caring. As the 20th year of the 21st century approaches, businesses would be best served to establish those personal relationships the old fashioned way- in person, talking, sharing a laugh, listening, and learning. Only through the shared human experience can we start to see our clients as people and as a result truly begin serving their needs.