Face-to-Face Networking in the Web 3.0 Era

How do we create lasting social connections and professional and personal relations? How does technology affect business by transforming people into objects?


Everything is going to trash, and I don’t want in.”

Diego Gutierrez, the author of the script for episode 18 of season 5 (2004), “Disposable”, of the American series “Judging Amy”, the line spoken by the main character

In today’s society, specific systems work quickly to decongest time, to facilitate development because certain entrepreneurs, inventors, developers, and investors have developed these systems to optimize and upgrade. For example, we have smartphones that are portable all-in-one mini-computers (mini-TVs, phones, computers, alarms, portable GPSs, mp3 players, kindle devices), similar to Star Trek tricorders. We have cleaning, tailoring, laundry, and home delivery services. We have product comparison, service evaluation, contactless payments, and driverless driving systems. I even saw prototypes of flying cars on the internet. So what do we do with this time?

(keep reading ↓)

The time of each person is all the more precious as it is more difficult to convince that person to have a meeting with you. Working in promotion, sales, and especially in telemarketing, I was confronted with attitudes that seemed extreme to me a few years ago, and now they seem normal.

A first attitude that seems to be business-oriented is “what is the purpose and duration of the conversation?” which forces the interlocutor to set a clear objective and direction that will motivate and justify the initial meeting. The problem with this attitude at a first meeting is that it can be counterproductive to networking. The first time two people meet and talk, they can reach a topic that connects them only after about two hours of discussion. Researching the interests stated on social networks and blogs is only a superficial approach that cannot replace open communication. Secondly, this attitude forces the meeting in a direction that the proposer has: he must sell something, at least an idea; otherwise, he will not likely receive a favorable response. The attitude of the type “purpose and duration of the conversation” is suitable for subsequent meetings when a relationship has already been created. Otherwise, focusing on the task is not meant to bother anyone if it is dealt with as an object labeled as “for sale” or “consumer” within such a meeting.

Another similar manifestation is found with the old collaborators who meet under the pretext of tasks that have to be set, but in fact, they only want to socialize for the sake of socializing; however, they do not do any of the things jointly agreed upon. They would not meet to admit that they are dear to each other because otherwise, there would be no rational justification for setting a common agenda. How many meetings of the type “let’s do something else” have you attended? These kinds of meetings are not productive, and usually, if they occur during working hours in a company, I tend to ask people to calculate how much the company spends on each participant’s time and how much the respective meeting has produced/saved in revenue.

When I approach certain potential clients who have shown interest in my services, I receive an attitude as if they did me a favor through this interest, possibly as almsgiving. One lady even said, “Well, it’s normal only for you to call me, as you need me, not the other way round.” It was customary for me to call her because she wanted to be called on a topic she wanted to know about. Despite its charming sincerity, such an attitude is entirely counterproductive because no seller likes to be kept on the trot for nothing. Judging in terms of the fact that most of those who buy services or products for their personal or professional development either buy them on the spot or never buy them, it would be pretty justified for me not to beat myself up over the people who say they are interested but do not buy, right? But, of course, those who have not worked in sales may find it easier to get rid of a seller like an object and should not be surprised that they are treated as objects called consumers. Certain sellers look at them as walking ATMs whose psychological buttons are easy to press to make money.

When you are having your first meeting with a person you have met, you may not know very clearly what is the pace or frequency with which it is acceptable to set appointments with that person, especially when there is a tendency to put people in boxes, as if a man can be reduced to his first intentions. Therefore, proactive may be labeled as aggressive persistence, while reactive as a lack of interest. No matter how well you build relationships, someone will label you in one extreme or another.

For example, after I had a promising meeting with a potential collaborator in organizing training sessions, I tried to establish the precise details regarding the seminars. Later, I found she was too busy with other tasks on her calendar and continually apologized for not meeting me without proposing something practical. A few months later, I received as a reproach and an excuse for a new refusal from her that “I gave no social sign of life” and that I never called her again. Another person, a client, who had a broken computer, was offended by the idea of my ​​sending her some materials by post. After all, if you don’t care about or like what you said was important to you, who do you expect to care about or like?

“Keep in touch” is a polite form of electronic remote communication, while “contact” is an entry in an electronic list that can be added, modified, prioritized, associated, or thrown away. Thus, each person, through their association and electronic extension, can be thrown into the trash countless times during a day without even knowing it. Furthermore, technology allows people to avoid social dangers, such as developing assertiveness. For example, why would a couple members bother to break up in a face-to-face discussion if they can send their thoughts via an SMS? Who knows, maybe if they meet, they might even display some real emotions, change their mind, and perceive the other person as a human being, not as an electronic object…

Setting meetings in an electronic agenda is salutary, as an addition to the notes that each one makes in a written agenda. Handwriting, at least from time to time, is an instrumental and essential gesture of expression for everyone’s psyche. There is also the following advantage: an agenda allows the compartmentalization of information on a surface much larger than the screen of a mobile phone. Of course, those not accustomed to planning would risk having an agenda that would be relatively empty, at least until they get used to expressing their ideas and notes in an organized manner. The lack of proper planning of activities and meetings creates an even greater addiction to technology in terms of interaction with people. Also, the preexistence of specific information organization systems prevents many people from designing, managing, and customizing their own information processing and organization system. I believe that things are as follows: the more meetings you have that are written down in an agenda that is a physical, tangible, paper object that you carry with you, whose weight you take, the more likely it is to perceive the actual existence of those you meet as distinct from the virtual reality of your smartphone or tablet.

Accompanying the meetings with the presence of digital devices (for example, to take dozens of pictures) also leads to their artificiality, in which the interlocutor appears as an object being photographed.

These tendencies on which I wrote about in the previous article, are:

  • Forcing the focus on the task and not on the relation (“purpose and duration of the meeting”);
  • the meetings proposed as functional that come to become focused on the relation to the detriment of the tasks and productivity;
  • treating sellers as objects;
  • treating clients / potential clients as objects;
  • lack of assertiveness in setting the frequency/pace of the meetings;
  • passiveness in building new social relations;
  • lack of honesty in communicating real objections;
  • placing people in predetermined boxes too quickly;
  • improper follow-up;
  • the virtual representation of people as contacts in a list;
  • ease of transmitting messages with emotional content avoiding unwanted consequences;
  • the facility to technologically block communication with someone at the expense of face-to-face communication;
  • addiction to virtual planning systems;
  • turning people into objects during meetings;
  • social isolation of the people who do not fit into the broader social patterns;
  • discouraging individualism and its association with selfishness, not independence;
  • … the need for freelancers for unconditional social integration to grow and develop;
  • stressing the culture of agreement and the absence of skills in communicating disagreements;
  • discouraging the free economic initiative at the psychological and financial levels.

only put a spoke in the wheels of networking and stress a culture of depersonalization that is neither good for the everyday psyche, business, or relations between people. The time saved by using services and technologies should be dedicated to socialization and our development, not the suppression of the human condition.

If authentic networking and creating social relations without electronic intermediation are not for you intrinsic reasons enough to make new human contacts, then don’t be surprised if:

  • you are treated as an object and not as a human being;
  • you don’t have enough real friends, or those that you have are not calling you anymore;
  • you don’t sell well;
  • you don’t have enough communication skills to progress in your career or socially.

Get your head out of your digital devices while people still stand before you!

Marcus Victor Grant

Copyright © Marcus Victor Grant 2017-present Translation by Cristiana Brezeanu of the article “Networkingul fata in fata in era web 3.0published initially by Marcus Victor Grant in Romanian on the 31st of May 2017 on Discerne. Copyright © Marcus Victor Grant, all rights reserved.  

The materials on this blog are subject to this disclaimer.

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