Dan Heffernan

On the Road Again

I’ve been to 3 trade shows in the last 6 weeks. It has been so good to attend in person!

Let me just say that it’s great to travel to other places. I have always considered business travel to be crucial for my job, as well as many others in our company. Not only are face-to-face meetings with prospects important when you’re starting a business relationship that might last decades, but travel also provides a fresh perspective on the businesses we are in and support, on how our clients use our platform to drive their revenues, and, perhaps most importantly, on the persons with whom we work at those clients. I have once again met such persons for dinner, spending time simply relating as human beings. These are the building blocks of relationships, and we’ve been missing these blocks for nearly 2 years.

I recently had dinner with a client who signed contracts with us a year ago, after a nearly 1-year-long sales cycle. We had never met in person. That’s quite sad, but we had a great time at this dinner toasting the success of the first phase of the project (rather than the contract signing) and getting to know one another as persons.

My most recent trip was to New York City, which is one of my favorite places for a business trip. I didn’t realize how much I’d missed New York until I got there. It’s a world city, and it seriously never sleeps. The food is amazing, the views are stunning and you meet people from every country under the sun. 

It’s the home of many major corporations and the executives who run them, and these executives show up at conferences and trade shows in New York. It’s always valuable to hear from the leaders in our industries, but conferences and trade shows also provide us with new leads and the opportunity to network with clients and industry consultants. Catching up with colleagues and hearing the buzz is critical to jumping on opportunities when they arise.

The pandemic provided an opportunity to learn that networking is nearly impossible at virtual events. I’ve participated in a few different attempts at this and it simply does not work. It’s impossible to read the body language of an avatar. (It’s hard enough with humans!) You can’t walk up to a person or group of people virtually and ask if you can join them during a reception. Meeting in person allows for serendipitous, often fortuitous conversations. I ended up meeting people I wouldn’t have met remotely, some of whom were introduced to me by common friends simply because I was standing there…another benefit of in-person meetings: being in the right place at the right time.

Conversations over drinks or meals, meeting industry players and listening to clients are all part and parcel of in-person events. I suspect they always will be.

So…our calendar for 2022 is filling up with in-person conferences and trade shows. Let’s hope that the numbers who attend these continue to increase and that we can get back to the business of in-person business! 

P.S. By the way, if you’re wondering, flying is just fine. Ignore all the videos of people acting like jerks on airliners and at airports. No one takes videos of a normal flight!

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