I love the internet, and I enjoy the various methods available to communicate electronically to people, whether locally, nationally or worldwide.
As a means for getting data from myself to one of my clients, email / internet are fabulous tools, and yes, email can be used (together with the internet) to build relationships and make the deals. A lot of people do business this way, but it misses a vital ingredient... the personal human interactive touch.
Depending on who's advice / research you decide to hang your hat on, anywhere from 60 - 75% of communication is made non-verbally; you know, facial expressions, body language and even the aura given. This is an amazing amount of communication found wanting in emails, instant messaging, texts and even tweets.
A simple face to face meeting can easily shortcut the sales / negotiation process, by paying careful attention to non-verbal signals. How many people have witnessed their client suddenly leaning back, crossing their arms and giving off a negative vibe? And if you weren't there at the meeting, and this meeting was being held in cyberspace... would you have picked up the clues? Most likely not.
However, being present at that meeting, in person, and staying alert to the non-verbal cues, places you in the box seat to counter any objections your client may have, implementing a strategy to get the meeting's direction back on track. Or simply, realise it wasn't meant to be... and no further time needs to be wasted for now (remember, don't burn any bridges).
Until mankind negates the core need to have close, physical personal interaction, face to face meetings / communication remains an important part of anyone's work and life.