I am the first to admit that I have a slight addiction to consumer electronics. I love my HDTV, game consoles, home automation, digital picture frame, smart phone and computers like any good techno nerd should. However, as I sit on this plane on the way to Vegas for the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) I have to admit I’m not really thinking about new gadgets at all; I am thinking about people. Geeky bloggers to be specific. I am more excited to see my friends and meet new people than I am about any touch screen refrigerator or new digital camera (though I want both).
A few years back I remember people saying that trade shows and events were going to be dead soon. There were a number of companies that created software and services for “virtual trade shows”, promising to replace the need to have a physical event. None of them took off that I am aware of and I don’t believe we will ever see the death of physical events. I don’t go to events to collect product marketing or listen to speakers, I go to events to meet people, interact and create a connection in person.
Modern technology is wonderful, but it doesn’t even come close to being there. I love to video chat with my parents, but it is no replacement for coming home and getting a hug from my mom. I can’t have dumplings with Brett Petersel, ride a lark with Missy Ward or do this weird hand thingy with Shoemoney on the interwebs. Try all you want but WOW, Second Life, Twitter and Facebook will never be a substitute for the real thing in business or your personal life (it’s time to dump that virtual girlfriend btw).
Have you ever noticed that the people with the biggest social networks online are also the most visible offline? Take Gary Vaynerchuck. The guy is everywhere. Shaking hands, kissing babies, kissing baby hands and so on. He has grown online because he has made the time to physically connect with people offline. He’s not just meeting people, he is meeting the right people.
I’m not looking to meet just anyone. If I wanted to do that I would walk into a bar, sit down and buy some dude a drink. He would try to sell me a timeshare, I would refuse, he would buy me four more drinks and I would accept. Later I would wake up and wonder what I was going to do with three weeks at the KaKatchy Ranch in Bettendorf, Iowa. That’s not what I am looking for.
I want to meet people that share my interests and passion in technology and social media. There happen to be a ton of those people attending CES, so it is a natural fit for me to get out from behind my computer and get to know them in person. How about you? When was the last time you broke out of the online world and made some real human connections? There are so many people out there, it’s time to get to know a few. Find an event that is right for you and make an appearance.