Reach Out and Touch Somebody's Hand

[I originally posted this on the Ogilvy PR blog]

This past Tuesday I spoke on a panel in Chicago sponsored by New York Festivals.   The panel - Social Media: How to Profit from It & Get Clients to Buy Into It – featured a great group including:

John Geletka, Director at Ratchet; Len Kendall, Media Strategist, Constructive Grumpiness; Rob Saker, Business Partner, Marketing Technology at Miller Coors; Vinny Warren, CEO, Escape Pod.  Alan Wolk hosted.

The topics were what you might expect … who owns social media within an organization (everyone and no one); what role should legal departments play in policing social media activity (bring them in early, rather than during a crisis); how do you help overcome clients’ fear of opening themselves up to attacks in social media (people will talk about you either way, better to get involved than bury your head in the sand); can agencies run a client’s Twitter feed or blog (not recommended in most cases, but either way total transparency a must).

And while the conversation was spirited, what really got me jazzed was the depth-of-bond formed by physically being in the same room.

Alan Wolk is someone I “met” over Twitter and had developed a great rapport with.  But upon actually meeting him – hearing his voice, shaking his hand – I instantly knew him in an entirely different way.

Len Kendall and I have exchanged messages over Twitter for months – but it turns out he is more soft-spoken (in a refreshing way, compared to many in social media who are at the other end of the volume spectrum) than I imagined, which will undoubtedly factor into my future conversations with him.

John Geletka, Rob Sakar and Vinny Warren … had someone introduced me to them via email or Twitter, I’m sure I would have found them interesting, but they would likely have gotten lumped in with a lot of other people I e-meet every day.  Now, you’re darn sure I’ll pay closer attention to what they say moving forward.

We (meaning those of us reading this blog) lead an increasingly digital existence.  But once in a while we need to remind ourselves that nothing takes the place of some old-fashioned face time.  Since it’s Friday (and I’m in a Friday kind of mood), I’ll leave you with this classic … way ahead of its time.