Tuesday, March 13, 2007

 

Learning & networking the old-fashioned way

I can no longer imagine business productivity and communication without email. Instant messaging services make it easy to ask quick question from my desktop. Many of us spend most of our days staying highly productive with nothing more than a monitor, keyboard and Internet connection.

I love the newfound levels of productivity that today's technology enables for each of us. But we also need to occasionally step away from our keyboards, out of our offices, and have real, live conversations with one another.

Sometimes that means answering an email with a phone call. Sometimes it means responding to an instant message by getting up, and walking down the hall.

By having live conversations, even though it may take an extra few precious minutes, we can create and reinforce stronger natural bonds and relationships with our colleagues, peers and co-workers. We open up opportunities to discuss other ideas, questions and priorities beyond the initial inquiry.

The art of networking has also gone digital. We can stay in touch with each other via email. Network via Plaxo and LinkedIn. Attend virtual seminars and Webinars online. Attend entire, multi-day conferences from home.

And again, I love these new opportunities. They allow each of us to learn more, learn faster, and learn more efficiently than ever before.

But they don't replace the opportunity to get out, meet people face-to-face, and interact in a way that only live settings can allow.

Face-to-face meetings accelerate networking and relationships faster than anything else. What's more, removing yourself from your usual everyday environment often gives you a fresh perspective on the same old challenges, and can re-energize you to solve the problems at hand.

John Jantsch recently wrote about stepping away from the monitor to give yourself a fresh perspective. Whether you're learning, networking, or just getting the daily and weekly work done, don't forget to mix up the means by which you communicate. Oftentimes, you'll find by giving up extreme efficiency, you gain in richness and value acceleration.

Update: Great post-SXSW post by Kathy Sierra today about why attending interactive conferences that focus on remote learning are still valuable.

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