In this age of real-time electronic communication, it’s easy to be cynical about the time and expense involved in attending a good old-fashioned face-to-face meeting or conference. After all, just last week I took part in a tweet chat with dietitians from all over the world from the comfort of my own sitting room, which didn’t cost me a cent. But having just hopped off the plane from the Dietitians NZ National Conference in Nelson, I’m reminded of the value of spending quality time both networking and socialising with one’s professional colleagues.
As a nutrition communicator I spend much of my time trawling the pages of PubMed, tapping away on the computer, laptop, iPhone or iPad, using social media and other electronic networks to share balanced, evidence-based food and nutrition information. It was actually quite a relief to rest my thumbs for a few days and use my own voice and ears instead. So much so that I now sound like a pack-a-day smoker!
Together with Sarah (a colleague from the NZ Nutrition Foundation) we presented a social media workshop for dietitians at the conference, and while we were very successful in convincing New Zealand dietitians to jump onto the blogosphere, I was surprised at how much the experience reminded me that social media is only useful in-between times of face-to-face contact. In fact when I think about it, the dietitians I interact most with via social media networks are the ones I’ve actually met in person.
Is it a generational thing? Being someone who grew up without the internet, who can even remember what working-life was like prior to email, perhaps I’m biased? Are you more likely to respond to questions and take part in social media discussions about professional issues when you’ve actually met the person seeking input? I guess I’ll get my answer from your comments below…
Tags: blogosphere, communication, Dietitians NZ, Dietitians NZ National Conference, digital communication, electronic communication, face-to-face, Food, health, health communication, networking, NZ Nutrition Foundation, social media, social media workshop, tweet chat, Twitter