On Monday afternoon, I found myself on a crowded Eurostar train. My destination was ISSE 2016 in Paris. I had the pleasure of being joined by a journalist and as we departed St Pancras we got talking about why we all still make the time to go to events, conferences and meetings in person.
Next to my cup of coffee on the table in front of me was my laptop, tablet and phone (I rarely travel light!). From each of these devices I could use email, WhatsApp, Skype, LinkedIn, GoToMeeting, email, Facebook IM and even make a call! So, why was I making the effort to attend ISSE?
The truth is that whilst all of these devices and communication platforms are great at helping maintain relationships, it is no substitute for getting in a room with each other and having a conversation. And, yes, I can stream presentations from large theatres, but there is something about being there in person and sharing the experience in the moment with others in the room (as well as tweeting for the benefit of those who can’t be there) that feels important.
As I met with people from across Europe and beyond – many of whom I had not seen since ISSE in Berlin last year – I was reminded that my relationships with these people were forged at these events and subsequently developed virtually thereafter. And, without taking the time to congregate together many of them would, in all likelihood, fade. In addition, I found myself sharing a coffee (and a glass of wine or two) with hugely influential people in the industry who would never accept a speculative LinkedIn request, had I not met them before!
We are all busy and sometimes it just isn’t possible to meet face-to-face but if we can we should, as not only is it always far more productive, it is also much more enjoyable.