Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Real Time Conversations

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. 

Read On:
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!


  1. I wonder what a 20-something, new to this industry would have to say about this topic. It could be a normal way of connecting and building bonds to them...

  2. The breakfast was highly enjoyable and very productive. It's amazing how face to face, real time conversation works! I am an advocate of the discipline.

  3. Thank you again for including me again this year, my friend. As for the comment above about 20 somethings...having taught millenials for a number of years I can say, while they chat via text and Facebook, they are still all about real face to face connections. They need it and thrive when 'coached'.

  4. great post...and reminds me that I have been out of touch! Sorry...and thanks for being a networked inspiration!

  5. As a 20-something, new to the industry individual I think the face to face interactions are essential, and coaching is a necessity. I love email, IM's, and texts but there is something to be said for being able to shake someones hand and look them in the eye. Also, from my sales point of view, it is a lot harder for someone to say "no" in person.

  6. You know my attitude on this, Jimmy. I am right in your corner. Millennials need to be encouraged (per Jackie's comment) to create a BLENDED approach, and not to use only a single channel. We all need that reminder. I blend both a "deep" and "wide" approach. Seems to work for me.

    Your OTL breakfast is always a highlight of my annual NRA gig. I always take away more than I give. That's the way it should be.