Before engagement and connections there were real time conversations. I was reminded of that earlier this month when I attended the National Restaurant Show in Chicago.
Over the years I have posted my thoughts as it relates to networking and social media. I have even confessed to being a networking junkie who has failed numerous 12 step programs. What is my networking philosophy? I believe in going deep versus wide, consequently I classify myself as a sustainable networker, someone who values people relationships long-term. I have expended my fair share of energy to nurture my relationships on a continual basis.
One effective networking technique I have utilized over the years has been to sponsor the Outside the Lines breakfast early Saturday morning when the National Restaurant Show opens. The event is exclusive, not an air kissing mob scene. I gather a handful of foodservice professionals who are representative of what makes my great industry tick. A majority of the regulars are friends. The additional attendees I invite to keep the OTL fresh/energized are usually people I have met on the business trail (e.g., conferences, airports, etc.). This year I even invited an individual I have been engaging with via LinkedIn and phone for the past two years, but we had never met in person. For three hours I moderate a roundtable discussion covering an interesting range of topics (business and personal). What is the spine of this event? Face to face, real time conversation! This year, we all concluded thanks to our daily electronic interface, we need to get back to more face time. The reason I am bonded (note: bonds are stronger than connections) to the breakfast veterans is we have been engaging face to face for years, even dating back to pre-Web 2.0. The reason I will bond with the first time breakfast attendees is they will remember the conversation they participated in on Saturday May 5th, 2012.
Remember, before engagement and connections there were real time conversations!