And it is so easy to say no over the phone. There's no real human connection. It's easy to pay half attention or less on the phone. It's easy to fake that you are listening when you are not.
In 2008, it was estimated that over 2.8 million people in the United States "considered home their primary place of business". With the increasing number of tools available for business collaboration, that number is only growing.
It all sounds great, but Fred's point above applies not only to the VC industry, but to all types of remote workers - you need to make an effort to actually see someone to build a professional relationship. Yes, you can stay in touch with telephone calls, emails, instant messaging, etc. but in order to truly understand (and appreciate) the person on the other end of the keyboard, it takes the effort to see them face to face.
Why? Messages and meanings are misinterpreted in emails and instant messaging. Video calls are great, but they still don't get you that feeling of shaking someone's hand and experiencing the nuances during a face-to-face meeting.
Next time you have the chance, walk across the hall and talk with someone instead of sending them an email. Extend a quick chat over a cup of coffee with that special customer on the other side of the city. When given the opportunity, meet with that partner who is in another city/state/country.
The time invested in making the effort to meet them in person will pay more benefits than that email you are about to send.