YOU CAN INTERFACE on the Internet, parley via PDA and broadcast from your Blackberry. But nothing, nothing will ever take the place of communicating face to face.
This point came home to me after my visits at back-to-back trade shows: our own, The Special Event, which took place in January, and the American Rental Association show, held last month. (For the complete rundown on all the events at The Special Event, turn to the wrap story beginning on page 22.)
We at Special Events Magazine do our best to stay on top of the developments in the industry. We're on long phone calls daily, and frequently (some of you may feel that we do it too frequently) shoot out e-mails asking you about everything from what colors are hot to what business worries keep you up at night.
Still, it never ceases to amaze me how much news I learn just from standing in my booth at a show and chatting with the people who come by.
It's in those simple, spontaneous conversations that news about the business bubbles up, whether it's a new venture about to debut or an established industry veteran who has decided to make the move into a well-earned retirement.
Along with the basic facts, I also hear the emotional tenor of the industry. It's one thing to hear that a business is streamlining operations. But it makes a world of difference to learn whether that move is made out of confidence — to fund an exciting expansion — or out of fear — to protect against the specter of a slowdown.
Just as enlightening as the conversations we have about business are the conversations we have about our personal lives. It's always striking for me to walk a show floor with Lisa Perrin, Special Events Magazine's publisher, who has been with the magazine for 17 years. She has seen not only the event industry blossom, but also the careers and families of many event professionals.
Technology has made our ability to communicate faster and more convenient. We can send messages around the world around the clock.
But while those messages may have the basic facts, they don't give us the whole picture. Whether it's our clients, our colleagues or our employees, we need to invest the time in spending time with one another to understand the rich texture of our business and personal lives.