Summer is officially behind us. So are a majority of the annual conferences in the food industry. Industry peers, have you collected a lot of cards this year? More importantly, when was the last time you engaged with someone whose card you collected?
Observation: People networking at conferences are good at collecting cards, but on the whole, they are not are not good at engaging. What is engagement? Asking that second or third question to drill down and find out more about the other individual’s work, family, pet llama, special interests, etc. More importantly, listening! Engagement also entails following up to solidify the connection, to lay the foundation for what will be a sustainable relationship. Engagement is an ongoing process. Engagement takes commitment.
My point? As an advocate of LinkedIn, I believe it has evolved into one huge online conference where people are making connections daily. However, they are exhibiting the behavior of a card collector, only concerned about numbers versus forging sustainable relationships in their professional network. I do know that some of you reading this post will disagree with me, but I am going to challenge you. When was the last time you engaged with someone you connected with on LinkedIn as far back as back as 2010? How about 2011?