I had the opportunity to attend two conferences over the past few weeks.  It is often hard to know what to expect in terms of value derived by attending but I go anyways with an open mind looking for that something.  The point in going is to network while picking up a few gems that you might be able to utilize when you get back to the office.  For some reason, my antennas were up at both events and I was having a blast being a card carrying member of this networking tribe.

Strange to actually meet someone

In the digital era, it seems strangely odd to actually meet someone in person who you have been in touch with via email, text, facebook, linked, twitter etc…. At times, it seems more like a blind date in terms of having an actual conversation with a person.  The folks that I speak with seemed consumed with their digital devices and less interested in what I have to say.  Is it me I begin to wonder? Could it be that networking in the digital age does not include face-to-face conversations? If that is the case, then I am out of luck since I left my iPhone in my hotel room.

photoI notice that most people come with a partner to share the experience with while I actually prefer to come alone.  It is always interesting to walk into a room where you do not know a soul.  It is a strange feeling of sorts and one that I have come to enjoy.  I firmly believe that one of the cornerstones of successful people is their ability to be comfortable in uncomfortable situations; which is why I attempt to do it as often as I can.   I have found it to be a great way to evaluate, tweak and enhance my personal brand. As I sit outside the exhibit hall, I decide to perform an experiment. I remove my name tag before I enter the room in order to see how the vendors will react to nameless Me.

Where’s the tag?

I stroll around the exhibit area from table to table and it is obvious that many of the vendors are perplexed by the absence of my name tag.  Who is this clown? It starts to feel like I am at Sea World watching the behavior of many of the exhibitors.  Before they even look me in the eye, they search desperately for my name tag in order to see if it is meal time.  I get the behavior but that does not mean I like it.  Is it too much to ask to actually have a conversation with someone anymore without an agenda?  I hope not.  If so, I will be sure to bring my iPhone to the next event so I fit in.

In case you happen to be selling, discussing or presenting something tomorrow, don’t forget that your brand often begins and ends at hello.  Little things do matter. At least they do to me!


Devin Hughes is a former college basketball player, sales and marketing aficionado, keynote speaker, part-time academic and frequent eclectic thinker.  He draws on a variety of ideas, disciplines and trends to inspire “Big Thoughts” and facilitate conversations.  He is best known for his expertise in selling best practices, sales strategy, sales training, leadership development and sales coaching.  He is an avid storyteller who has the unique ability to connect with audiences by inspiring them to be the change they wish to see in the world.  A graduate of Colgate University, he lives in Carlsbad, CA with his wife and four daughters.  You may contact him via e-mail at devin@devinchughes.com. Follow him on Twitter.  His website is: http://www.devinchughes.com/ He is also a featured blogger on http://www.upstartnation.biz.  He is available upon request for consultation.