In the modern world with access to Social Media channels as well as mobile devices there is now the opportunity to be connected 24/7.
In effect you can be in two places at once… but are you really fully present at either of them?
To quote the famous Goldblum line “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should” – particularly when the end result could be a loss in credibility.
Dr Ivan Misner mentioned in his blog Don’t Make This Mistake at Your Next Networking Event about the dangers of trying to do two things at the same time and the effect on credibility.
He talks about networking meetings specifically in his blog, but unfortunately whilst you would think people would understand that if you were in a normal meeting with a client you wouldn’t take a call would be obvious, I occasionally come across people that don’t quite get this.
Indeed I had someone yesterday who was upset I didn’t take their call half way through a meeting! How would they have felt if I was meeting with them instead and I stopped to take a call?
I’ve been in meetings where the other person has pulled out their ringing cellphone and actually answered it! Not only is this disrespectful to the person they are with, it also disrespects the caller as they are not able to give them their full attention.
It’s important to recognise boundaries, and whilst it might be ok to share something online during certain meetings if it is appropriate – it’s not in a private meeting.
Being able to turn off the 24/7 communication is an increasingly important skill as the differing methods and the volume will only increase.
When I am with a client, I am completely present and not reachable externally. In fact, I actually removed my cell phone number from my business cards last year and don’t give it out except where it is necessary for a specific meeting.
This doesn’t mean that I am out of touch – I have an excellent PA who handles my calls, should there be an extreme emergency (rare in tax as the deadlines are all well known) she can contact me on my cell phone if it’s appropriate. Between meetings I can check on my messages and respond, but not during the meeting – for that time I am wholly present at the meeting.
Some people may think that juggling multiple cell phones, social media accounts and face to face meetings makes them super productive – but they are actually affecting their credibility.
An excellent example of being present at the moment is Sir Richard Branson, who was talking to Dr Misner’s son Trey. For the time of their meeting he was 100% focussed on Trey, despite all the potential distractions around him. When you consider Sir Richard’s success, it’s an important point – being present where you are at that moment.
Even if you think you can jump around doing many different things simultaneously, there is always a physical limit. We are not superheroes, and even if we were…
What have your own experiences been, and what works best for you in ensuring you are fully present?