Everyday Touchpoints

I wait in a TSA line at Boston Logan Airport, inching my way toward the front, when I notice a man and a woman.

They’re standing next to each other, laughing, bantering back and forth.

The man takes the palm of his right hand, playfully places it on the woman’s forehead for a quick second.

Give me some of that energy, he says and withdraws the hand.

She laughs. He laughs.

I surmise they’re co-workers on a business trip. Best friends, maybe. Definitely not a romantic couple.

The moment lasts mere seconds.

I am touched by the playfulness of the moment, but I am moved even more by the hidden message of the gesture: I value what’s in your brain. I am inspired by your thoughts. I love the energy you offer. I want some of it.

Nice, isn’t it?

Later in the week I hear Doug Conant, former CEO of Campbell Soup, speak about touchpoints at the CEN Leadership Conference in Jacksonville.

In the language of selling cycles, the word “touchpoint” is in danger of becoming a cliché – it refers to all the moments of contact with the buyer.

Doug, much more meaningfully, refers to the impromptu chats he had as the Campbell CEO as he roamed the hallways and engaged with folks. He refers to the many spur-of-the-moment thank you notes he wrote. He ends his talk by describing his experience of being in a near-death car accident, just a few years back. Doug wells up as he speaks of the many note cards he received from Campbell employees all over the world, and what these note cards meant to him.

Yes. Touchpoints.

The small moments when we are able to move each other, surprise each other, affirm each other.

The moments when we connect, human to human, beyond professional protocol or process.

The moments that change the course of an entire day.

Touchpoints do not just sort of happen. They occur because you and I embrace our instinct to connect. We choose to follow this instinct. And we are willing to transcend the social constraints of a moment.

Now, I do not suggest you start running around, touching colleagues’ and strangers’ foreheads with your hand (though I like the literalness of the TSA-line-touch). Forehead tapping is actually a beloved stress-release technique – but you gotta know what you’re doing …

If you’re not used to initiating touchpoints, enter each day with a touchpoint mindset.

Set yourself a mini-touchpoint goal. Something like “I am following up on 5 touchpoint opportunities today.” And suddenly you will see the opportunities absolutely everywhere.