Unsocial Media and Networking
As many readers know, I have been a critic of social media for some time. I personally believe it should be called "Unsocial Media." After all, there’s nothing social about staring at your phone or computer and “interacting” with other people. At first, platforms like Facebook seemed like a good opportunity to connect with friends and family. Now, many people use social media platforms to spew their biased opinions and post negative comments that they would never do in traditional social situations. We have a generation of kids who have no social interaction skills. They don’t know how to have a conversation with another person or group of people. They don’t understand social etiquette. The old advice of never discussing politics or religion has been tossed out the window.
Some people have been making the choice to avoid gathering in-person with others for years — opting instead to stare at their computer or smart phone to “gather” with others. For the past year, most of us were forced to make that transition as well. As COVID-19 restrictions were enacted across the world, most of us were only able to keep in touch with friends and family through phone conversations, social media and video streaming services.
This is a good point to segue into trade shows. I have attended trade shows and industry events for more than 20 years — it’s part of my job. They are great opportunities to learn about new products and services in the aircraft maintenance market. These events and trade shows have also allowed me to network and meet thousands of industry professionals. Over the course of the past 20 years, I have formed close friendships with many people thanks to industry events. Many of us took the time to get together regularly at these events over a cup of coffee, lunch, dinner or even an adult beverage or two. We took advantage of this time to network catch up on what was going on in our professional and personal lives.
Unfortunately, live trade shows and events were pretty much non-existent in 2020. Instead, we had a couple of opportunities to attend virtual trade shows and events.
We are now at a fork in the road. One road takes us back to where in-person industry events pick back up and return to a somewhat normal state. The other road takes us on a new journey where virtual events replace traditional in-person events.
“That second road will never be taken,” some of you may be thinking.
Well, it is a possibility. The quality of software platforms that allow for more user-friendly virtual event experiences keeps on growing.
Consider one such product — GathR, a software platform launched last year specifically for virtual meetings and events. You can see how GathR works at https://letsgathr.io. Or you can search for “GathR” on YouTube. Basically, GathR allows for an immersive experience at an event. If it is used for a virtual trade show, exhibitors and attendees can upload a custom head shot to their “robot” avatar. Attendees can then take a stroll around the virtual exhibit hall. They can stop at a booth and see everyone who there. They can view product demos or even have a one-on-one meeting with a representative from the company or with another attendee. There is even an option to attend networking events such as an after-hours concert, where attendees can step away to have virtual one-on-one conversations.
I don’t know about you, but I can’t imagine a world where in-person trade shows and events become a thing of the past. I can’t imagine how it would be possible to network with other people and build professional friendships in a world where we never get to meet in-person.
Then again, maybe the people riding around on horse-drawn buggies in the early 20th century never imagined gasoline-powered vehicles would become the new normal.
What do you think?
Thanks for reading, and we appreciate your feedback! – Joe