Slicing Time in a Face to Face Environment

The Podcasting and New Media Expo was this past weekend in Ontario, California. I’m a fan of the Bourquin brothers’ work overall, and found the event to be well-run from the perspective of someone who throws events for a living. I didn’t connect very well with the content in the speaking sessions this year (and that’s just my personal experience), but I think that some folks got some great information from it all. I saw C.C. Chapman and others doing a fascinating talk about virtual worlds that I wished I’d seen in full, but it’s hard to keep everything together and on track for my own personal schedule at events.

That’s actually what I want to talk about. I have to ask you for your help. I need your advice and some potential ways to manage things. Let me explain my dilemma.

The Overwhelming Effects of Social Networking

I’m fortunate to say that my efforts with Twitter and Facebook and my blog and other media have done exactly what I’ve set out to do: establish a long-distance personal connection with people I see only rarely. I feel that the way people treat me at events like the PMNE conference is directly related to how people perceive my personality and demeanor from afar. They take me to be kind, interested, and approachable.

These things are all true.

The only problem is: it’s hard to scale. I’m one human being. The one-to-many communication platform of Twitter and Facebook and a blog means that I am touching lots of people with the same message. It means you can all touch my message, feel my intentions, and have an experience with them.

In person, it’s a little harder. There’s only one me and there are hundreds of really great people seeking to have a one on one conversation. I’m grateful for this, and I wouldn’t want friends to feel that they couldn’t approach me and talk for a few minutes.

At the PMNE, I met a bunch of people after my speech at the Podcast Academy. They were all wonderful and interesting, and had lots of response to my presentation. It’s exactly what I would hope and made me feel appreciative.

Only, some of the conversations were much too long for me to manage.

Finite Time

First, some distinctions. My real good FRIENDS should feel that they can talk to me whenever they need me. Second, if I’ve met and spoken with you at other events, chances are I’d love to say hi to you at this one, too.

The majority of new people I meet are wonderful and great and amazing. I *love* meeting interesting new people who have some great projects on the go, and who are interested in talking about their passions. I love talking with new people about passionate things.

Sometimes, however, someone will speak to me and try hard to hold my undivided attention for 20 or more minutes at a time, rambling without much substance and not really getting to a point of conversation as much as they’ve decided to share a biography with me.

NOTE: If you’ve just recently met me, chances are I really enjoyed talking with you. This post addresses about 4 people total that I met at this event.

For those types of new people that I’m meeting and talking with about things, I wish there were a way to say, “You’re really interesting and I am grateful you want to talk with me. I only have a limited amount of time to meet and speak with everyone. Could I ask to you follow up with your larger questions via email?”

But I don’t know how.

My Biggest Fears

  • I don’t want people to think I’m a snob.

  • I don’t want someone thinking that I think they’re “unworthy.”
  • I am afraid I’ll miss something truly wonderful, just because someone’s social skills aren’t all that.

So, what do I do? I need to better manage my time, because I’m learning that the people suffering the most from my inability to manage time are my friends, and the people who have something important and legitimate to share with me.

I need advice and strategies. What do you think?

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