IRL Networking Is Face-to-Face, not F2F: #TChat Preview

I go to conferences because I love people, the buzz of face-to-face and meeting people who inspire me. I’m not one these people that always wants to be the star of the show necessarily. If my role at a conference is to present and deliver you new and exciting information well then I’m in of course. I play this role on a regular basis and enjoy sharing with you very much. People who meet me IRL (in real life) often say I’m more interesting in person than I am “online” – This makes me laugh and it’s likely true. Many of you would only *really* know this about me if you have spent time with me IRL. I’m a notorious people watcher AND a leader. I enjoy speaking as much as I do listening. Is this possible? Truly getting to know people requires spending time together, in real life (IRL). I often am inspired when I meet someone who makes me think differently, challenges many of my assumptions and makes me want to press forward into the unknown. And I am a huge fan of social media, too, but it’s misled us: Now, F2F means “face-to-face,” and IRL means “in real life.” Meeting people is about getting to know them in-person, not merely F2F or IRL. Finding talent means being open to seeing people in 3D – this means getting to know their authentic personality and skill set. Industry events remain one (of many-no longer the only) setting to forge and nurture relationships, generate leads, promote and maintain corporate and personal brand, and of course learning along the way.

Since 2001, evolving and challenging economic conditions have created pressure on the live events scene. Large gatherings focused on a subject, technology or industry sector have gradually given way to smaller, more focused regional events. Where large trade shows once were the place to meet leaders, influencers and learn about trends, today you’re just as likely to find quality interaction at meetups and regional seminars. And then there’s the way the cool kids get together—through social media Twitter chats and in online social communities of interest. Why go to a conference to meet someone when you can just log into LinkedIn? Why bother with planes, trains and automobiles in a strange city when you can sit at your desk and watch a webinar? Live tweet? Facebook? G+? And who wants to shake someone’s hand during flu season when a 140-character thought bubble will accomplish much the same or more?

Social media technologies have indeed fundamentally transformed our human interactions. This is a fact. But they’ve also enhanced and extended the impact and reach of in-person, face-to-face events. You can combine social media and IRL to create something far greater than one or the other alone. I’m seeing this more and more at HR, Business and Social Media events—people chatting, then quickly pulling out a tablet or smartphone to fire off a Tweet or update a Facebook page. It’s a two-for-one special: the connection of real people with the opportunity to dive quickly into the free-flowing electronic stream of social media interaction. Play it right, balance the in-person and the electronic, and you can have something better than the best of both worlds. It’s Nirvana. All at once, you can have the authenticity of face-to-face, in-person interactions and the immediacy and facilitative shorthand of social media plus mobile technology, all of which has compelled us to think in real life as IRL and meet face-to-face as F2F.

I’m looking ahead, one of my favorite things to do. I’m wondering about the next big thing that will transform personal interaction, blending the immediacy of social and the intimacy of personal—which is why we at TalentCulture are inviting you all to weigh in on this week’s “#TChat, the World of Work.” That would be Wednesday, March 7. Fire up Twitter at 7-8 pm ET (6-7 CT, 4-5 pm PT, or wherever you are) to join me and moderator Maren Hogan, as well as Kevin GrossmanSean CharlesKyle Lagunas and Brent Skinner. Here are the questions we’ll be discussing:

  • Q1: Why do you go to conferences and F2F networking events?
  • Q2: Do you think social media can or will ever replace those benefits?
    (Why? Why not?)
  • Q3: What are the pros of social at live events?
  • Q4: What are the cons of having social during conferences?
  • Q5: What will be the next social innovation for F2F events?