At a recent conference I had an experience that everyone who has been to a conference has had at least once – I was standing by myself with no one to talk to. It was Saturday morning and not many people had arrived yet. Of the early attendees who were there, everyone was seemingly engrossed in their notebooks or phones. Didn’t we all bother coming before the sessions started to network? Or, as we were instructed by the conference facilitators, not to network but to build collaborative relationships, the first step of which happens to be networking. Never mind. That is beside the point. All right; one more point, the conference planner told me, no, he was not an event planner, he, instead, facilitated experiences…
Call it what you like….we were attending a planned event, part of which was intentionally left unstructured for networking. Which takes me back to the beginning: Is the President of the United States emailing you? Do you really need to be checking your email at a conference in the early a.m. of a Saturday? Or are you really just watching cat videos so that you appear important enough to be busy? You know what I’m talking about… the kind of important person someone would want to network with if you weren’t making yourself so unapproachable by pretending to be involved with your phone.
Any casual purveyor of YouTube would know there are enough cat videos on the internet to feign busyness during the networking portion of conferences for a lifetime. One could probably narrow it down to say there were enough cat videos of orange cats wearing hats to feign busyness during the networking portion of conferences for a lifetime. But this fact does not warrant checking your phone incessantly or remove what I am convinced is a fact – the President is not emailing most of us. Most of us aren’t doing anything all that important on our phones. They’re a crutch. We look at someone else’s vacation pictures on Facebook to build an image so we may maintain ours. Look at me. I am busy. I have things to do. We look at the news and this or that feed to avoid sitting with our thoughts.
One could say that important people always have things that needed attending to. One could say that really important people have other people to attend to their things so they could have time to reflect and think of big ideas. One could say that presenting yourself as someone who was comfortable with his own thoughts, and as someone who looked like he was thinking something interesting, would be just the type of person we’d all like to meet.