When technology rules and there are seemingly endless ways to keep in touch (or distract ourselves!), is meeting face to face less important? As I write this, my bags are packed, and I’m en route to Atlanta, where nearly 20,000 professionals from the architectural, engineering and construction industries will come together for the next three to four days. There will be hundreds of education sessions, evening events and opportunities to informally connect while we take over the city of Coke, CNN and inspiring leadership lessons from Martin Luther King, Jr. and President Jimmy Carter.
But do we really need to be physically together in the same space? We’ve got email, conference calls, video chat, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, to keep us connected in our homes and offices. We’ve also got commitments like jobs, families, friends, and budgets that make travel more challenging and increase the appeal of those electronic connections even more. And while all of that is true, and it is easier to keep in touch than ever, I absolutely think there’s still value in being face to face, and in the case of a large convention like this, being part of something bigger than yourself.
We so easily get bogged down in the day to day and promise to catch up with friends and colleagues later. But later keeps getting pushed further and further away as the urgent drowns out the important. Sure, the education and keynote sessions at a conference like this are great (I sure hope so, since Karen and I are leading one!), but the real magic happens between the attendees. Sure, that can be during a session, but it’s also in the hallway, during lunch, over a cocktail or two or even bumping into someone from the same conference out and about enjoying the host city. There’s something incredibly powerful in getting out from behind your desk and daily routine, and taking a moment to connect with someone else who does what you do and giving yourself permission to focus on your own growth for a minute or two.
When is the last time you unplugged and met a friend, family member or colleague for some face time and did yourself a favor in the meantime?