Before lock-down we were living in a time when most of us shied away from social interaction, and instead chose the safer option of our screens to engage with the world. But now we’re no longer allowed to explore the outside world, is this changing how we feel about our screens?
I was born in the 80’s, so I’ve always felt like one of the lucky ones who got to experience the world pre-internet and industry 4.0. I’m also lucky because I’m able to see how both are to changing the world for the better.
Information has never been as accessible as it is today; the entire world is connected and we can speak to each other any time, in real time, in HD and wearing augmented reality doggy ears if we want! We can explore and learn and create whatever we want all from the comfort of our own homes, and that’s what we’ve been doing.
But at what expense?
Our social skills are declining, social anxiety is on the rise, and our natural ability to network and build meaningful personal relationships is gradually fading away.
But now everything has changed.
We no longer have a choice.
By removing our ability to interact with others in person, we’ve never wanted it more! We’re realising how much is means to us, how deeply ingrained it is in us to be able to talk to, and see and touch other humans; to be part of a tribe!
Yes we’re still making silly TikTok videos (yes mine are awesome) and Instagram stories, but now it’s for a different purpose; it’s to make others smile, it’s to feel connected to strangers because we’re all in this together, and lets be honest it’s to pass a bit of time.
But aside from that screen time we’re doing other things too: we’re FaceTiming with friends who migrated to Australia five years ago and have only text sporadically since. We’re hosting family quiz’s on a Friday night on Zoom* and joining baby groups in our pj’s on a Wednesday morning. (*Zoom has gone from 10 million daily users, to 200 million this March.) We’re using the social networks for what they were originally intended and when the screens go down we’re doing something even better – we’re speaking to our people!
The people we live are the only people we have right now, so we’re reconnecting with them in completely different ways. Teenagers are playing scrabble with their parents, families are eating meals together at the dinning room table, and the craft box has been pulled out from under the stairs so we can play & create together again.
The novelty of our screens is wearing off, and now we’re in the unique position of literally having nowhere to go and nothing to do, we’re looking to each other for the first time in a long time.
We’re reconnecting and we’re relearning the value of in-person.
In business we’ve been focusing so intensely on digital marketing for the past decade that traditional face-to-face has somewhat been forgotten. The data associated with online networking allows us to be completely in control of our marketing activities, analysing stats, click-through rates and ROI; we can instantly see what’s working and what’s not.
Now that we’re realising the power of in-person, surely we should be looking to harness that power for the benefit of our businesses by being strategic offline too.
Networking doesn’t have to be, and definitely shouldn’t be, just a pot-luck of who you happen to meet that day. No. It should be planned and organised and goal driven and strategic so you know what you’re doing and what you’re getting in return.
There are going to be a lot of positives that come from this terrible situation the world finds itself in right now. On a personal level I hope it brings people and families closer together again; that the dinners at the table continue and the Sunday scrabble games go on. Professionally I hope that the value of in-person interactions is realised and traditional networking finds a whole new lease of life: one that is taken as seriously as other marketing functions, and is given the same amount of thought, time and respect that it so rightfully deserves.
If you’d like to have a chat about your own networking strategy or skills email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org