While waiting to begin speaking at a conference session several days ago, a man sitting near the front came up to me and said something like “Well, it’s strange that we would finally meet some place like this.” I said “And you are…?” He turned his name badge around where I could read it and it was a fellow employee from my company in Louisville – one whom I had been on numerous phone calls with but had never actually met in person. Indeed it was odd that our first in-person meeting would not be in our own city but on the other side of the continent – a consequence of the prevalence of virtual meetings.
While at the conference, I finally had the chance to meet in person a number of people from the company that invited me to come speak. I remember saying to a couple of them, “I need to just hold up an empty picture frame in front of people’s faces this week to be more likely to recognize them based on the online head shots I’ve seen for so long.”
Online communications and social media have changed the frequency and the need to meet together in person – for good or bad. This week, however, it was a lot of fun to be able to spend time face to face with these people. It deepened the relationships.
My career is currently 100% centered around social media, but it is important to occasionally set the devices aside and have some time together with others. It shouldn’t all be done online.
Since this week’s trip was to a major annual technology conference with over 20,000 people registered, it is no surprise that everyone had their favorite devices with them – mostly tablets and smart phones and a few laptops for old-timers. The irony did not escape me while walking past large groups of people that at this tremendous event ripe with in-person networking opportunities, most had their heads buried in devices where they were carrying on conversations with others not present. That’s not necessarily a good thing.
Leap year lesson #239 is Know when to network in person instead of online.