Why It’s A Really Good Idea To Get Out Of Your Office
This is not an old-guy rant about how the “younger generation” doesn’t understand the value of personal relationships, that they are over-connected to and over-dependent upon technology and that the world is going to hell-in-a-hand-basket (blah, blah, blah).
First of all… I have no idea if it is true. Second, it’s probably not (except for the hell-in-a-hand-basket thing) and third… if it is true, well, being an old guy, I will be dead (relatively) sooner rather than later and I don’t want to live in that world anyway, so good luck with that. I digress.
The reason I am writing about this is we just completed the 15th Annual San Francisco All Things Meetings Reception & Tradeshow where we brought together about 165 meeting planners and introduced them to 100+ exhibitor vendors representing every aspect of the industry (hotels, venues, CVBs, DMCs, Team Builders, AV Production Companies, Trade Show Booth and Prop Designers, Meeting Technology Companies, Transportation companies, Banner makers, Gift Amenity providers and “more”).
There was great food, wine, cool displays, prizes, and a lot of talking, laughing, hugging and that “networking” thing.
Before I ramble on about my theories about humans, the universe and everything,
here’s some attendee feedback…
“I just wanted to take a moment to thank you for a great event! All of us who plan events know the effort put forth for a successful outcome! I enjoyed speaking with many of the vendors and making numerous contacts”. – Barbara A. –Shoretel
“Once again, last night was awesome! THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!!!!!!” Lena S. – Lazard
“Thank you for a great event. I made some excellent contacts and it was especially good exposure to so many vendors.” Scott T. – Helpshift
“THANK YOU for such a great event! There were some new vendors there and it was great finding out about their services.” – Patti F. – Ellen Michaels Presents
“It was a pleasure to meet you. Thank you for the invite. I found lots of great vendors to connect with at the All Things Meetings Reception and Trade Show”. Fredda O. - UC Berkeley School of Law
“I just wanted to say that I thought last night was a fabulous event, and I was able to meet people I'd worked with over email, as well as meet a lot of new (and exciting!) vendors! I already have my "favorites" on the list, and will hope to work with them in the future.” – Nancy S. – Genentech
“Thank you, Neil, for organizing and hosting - always a fun and super useful network promoting and enabling event! Wonderful to see how it's growing and offering ever more opportunities for both vendors and planners”. – Naila M. – Ancestry.com
“It was a great event. It was nice to connect with folks with venues and services that could useful for future programs.” – Thelma D. – Pacific Coast Opthamologic Society
“Another great event this year - my team had a fun time and met lots of new folks.” – Joanna Z. – Appirio
“It was so wonderful to connect with old friends and colleagues and to catch up on some of the latest changes at many destinations and hotels. Every year I look forward to your event! Thank you so much! “– Loretta L.. CMP
And now for my theory about humans, the universe, why you should get out more, and everything…
Take billions of years of evolution with trillions of acts of random natural selection. One turned out to be us. The DNA codes of this particular (and very recent) branch, combined with the DNA codes of an enormous host of bacteria, parasites, viruses, and other “things”, mindlessly experiment with survival techniques to successfully replicate within a narrow band of energetic vibration we like to call ‘reality”.
I won’t even address the idea that we don’t really exist as individuals but are part of a continuum… let’s save that for a conversation in a café over a triple espresso (with a bearded guy playing bongos in the corner)… but for the sake of this discussion about meetings…
One of these survival techniques we human animals are good at is social interaction. We survive better when we are in a group (aka herd, pack, tribe, nation, religion… you get the idea) because DNA encoded cooperation increases our chance of survival long enough to reproduce.
It’s too soon to know if this really works (a million years is kind of nothing), but here we are. What was I talking about?
An important part of this social interaction/survival thing is that the human brain evolved to be really good at pattern recognition. Back in the wandering around the savannah days, it helped to be able to read the facial expressions and gruntal intonations of our fellow primates so we knew who was about to give us food and who was about to hit us over the head with a sharp rock. Everyone had to know where they fit in and our brains are amazing at “reading” each other.
What does this have to do with why it’s a really good idea to get out of your office, away from your computer and e-mails, and go to an industry trade-show?
To over-simplify… Meetings are incredibly complicated. You can’t do it without good relationships with your vendors… and you can’t really tell whom you can trust… I mean really trust… until you shake their hand, look them in the eye, listen to them talk, and in general use your ancient pattern-recognition skills to see if you can trust them enough to give them your business. Will they protect you or abandon you? Are they who they say they are? The face-to-face moment may be brief, but you build on that.
Of course you may misjudge them. Obviously they have to be accountable for what they promise (the contract thing). But it’s a good start. E-mails and web sites cannot compare no matter what anyone says.
Remember… you think you know everything. You don’t.
Don’t believe everything you read on the internet or in a text message.
Get out and meet people. It’s what we do.