Some people have nightmares about getting eaten by bears. I have them about being late, and this explains why the panic was setting in.

I was on my way to have coffee with a newly budding relationship, our third time meeting, when I figured out that traffic was just not going to cooperate. Figuring I was now going to be 5 or 10 minutes tardy, I asked Siri to call the guy so I could let me know.

And Siri just gave me a blank stare (of the artificial intelligence kind).

Then it dawned on me. Every time we’d connect previously it was through Facebook chat. After two years of knowing Ryan and two previous meetings, I didn’t have the guy’s phone number.

Perhaps ironically, I’m not a big user of Facebook chat, though I’ve long been a fan of instant messaging in general.

Which is exactly the point.

Today’s world is no longer one telephone and three TV networks. It’s as multi-channel as it has ever been, and it’s getting moreso.

There’s another issue at play, however, which is this:

Are you going to do what your client wants, or are you going to force them to do what you want?

Repeatedly I hear people say things like, “LinkedIn is for professional, Facebook is for personal. And Twitter, I don’t really get it, and I watch some news go by. Take a realtime call via Skype? Did you just curse in the presence of women and angels?”

Believe me, I understand. I used to say the same thing. This doesn’t make me a hero, it simply means I’m a fellow traveler on the same crazy journey.

For me it was that I kept ignoring requests from strangers who were real people who’d felt connected to me when I was the speaker at an event (online or off).

And I kept asking myself, what would I say to someone else if they asked for my advice?

Duh. I’d say that if a potential customer or business connection WANTS to connect, to have a dialogue, to get your updates, how freakin’ valuable is that?

Here are some signs that you might need to grease the friction between your communication channels:

  • You want to keep connections compartmentalized (e.g., LinkedIn versus Facebook).
  • You ever find a pile of messages in an inbox somewhere that you haven’t checked in a long time.
  • You don’t mind getting a call at your desk, but you’re perturbed if they call your mobile phone.
  • You don’t think about managing time and connections by realtime versus non-realtime.
  • You make a presentation and the sole connection option give someone is to trade business cards.

In a future episode I’ll tackle a strategy for living in a multichannel world without killing your productivity, but for now let me leave you with this prod:

In a world of overwhelm, relationship is the oldest new killer app. And increasingly your new potential relationships will be in neighborhoods (online channels!) you haven’t previously frequented.

Are you going to wait for them to swim the river to you or are you going to build a bridge?