The Value of Showing Up in Person

Sometimes it is better in person. I realize that is ridiculous for me to say because so much of what I do is online. I have grown to love the instant and often deep community connection that forms online. The access to research and stats and information is unparalleled. People from all over the world will help me get things done. Spelling and grammar checkers are my partners in writing.

That said, the Internet is vast and its communities largely unmapped, as hard as Google tries. You can search on Twitter, on Facebook, on LinkedIn, on Pinterest, on Instagram, on Quora and hunt for connection until you get sick of looking at all those screens and then have to run outside and experience the real world.

Of course, there probably isn’t a distinction any longer between what we call the real word and the online world. Howls of protest: What about trees? And flowers? Calm down, you’re right, lovers of Nature. Gaia, the Earth Goddess, is still with us. This electric world, however, the one on our screens, is no less real, takes a lot of our time, and has value.

But how much value?

There’s a filter to be applied here, and I think it goes something like this. When your work involves people’s senses, you have to see them in person. Making wine and selling it will never become SaaS. You have to show up at a wine tasting and hand someone a glass with your best product in it. Giving a talk in person will always get you better prospects than trying to build an online form with exquisite conditional logic flowing through it. Teaching is moving online, and it’s remarkable how much can be taught through a screen. But when you have to move models around and have a conversation with more than two people, a conference call won’t cut it. Not everything works as a screen share. When you are building an app to help people have better business meetings, ironically enough, you have to show up in public, at a business meeting, to pitch it effectively.

The personal connection matters. Showing up will always have value, close the deal, help people learn faster. Though the online world is powerful and getting more so, there will always be speaking engagements, always be panels and conferences, there will always be face time, no matter how good Facetime is.