For the better part of 2009, ExecuNet data has shown that executive recruiters and corporate talent management officers have placed a premium on top-notch business development and sales leaders. Particularly in this environment, those roles hold the key to business growth.

In today’s economy, one fraught with restrictions on corporate travel and the buzz around social networking, it’s easy and especially convenient to migrate new and longtime relationships to the world of emails, text messages, phone calls and various web posts. Quick and easy still has a lot of momentum in the rushed existence of many business leaders these days.

But if one loses sight of the importance of meaningful, face-to-face business interactions, the value and future potential of relationship capital diminishes, and critically important trust building opportunities go by the wayside.

The bottom line for business executives is still determined largely by a handshake, a warm greeting, personal credibility and the kind of candor that is usually only surfaced in meaningful, face-to face dialogue that requires more commitment than a conference call.

All of this is backed up by a recent Harvard Business Review study that found 95 percent of its survey participants describe face-to-face meetings as a key factor in successfully building and maintaining long term relationships! When it comes to those face-to-face meetings most likely to be protected from budget cuts, interview of senior staff for a key appointment ranked third, right behind new business development and contract negotiations.