At the end of the Leadership Conference, part of the EA Masters event, Michelle Gallagher of JDG Estate Agents said to me: “It’s all about connection isn’t it?”

This was a theme running throughout all our speakers’ presentations but I can’t claim it was planned, it wasn’t. It just happened by chance that one after another they made the point that to be highly effective we need to regularly and deeply connect with our teams and clients.

Over the last ten days I’ve been thinking about how this came about and the significance it made to me, Michelle and many others, (judging from the feedback), and I’ve come to a conclusion I hope worth sharing today.

A lot of research into human evolution concludes that a key factor in our development is as a consequence of our social interactions, tribal nature and need to belong. On the face of it, you could argue that in this digital age and thanks to social media in particular we’re connected like never before.

Just this week I’ve congratulated a dozen people on their work promotions, sent best wishes for four birthdays, donated to two charities where friends are climbing Kilimanjaro and cycling to Paris and none of this would have happened without Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn as I wouldn’t otherwise have been aware. I’ve liked and commented on hundreds of posts, sent messages of support to people having tough times and had huge pleasure seeing two friends make significant breakthroughs with their personal struggles. It’s incredible when you stop and think about it, we’re able to stay connected to hundreds of people, be aware of what they’re up to and contribute in a small way to their lives. But at what level?

Although my interactions were sincere, many of them are, on reflection, a little shallow. Clicking a like, typing a two-line message takes a few seconds, making a donation took no more than a couple of minutes. In each case my connection was short and some, too many I realise, were automatic, without deep thought. I’m not saying that everything that happens on social media lacks depth but I believe much of it does.

What an event like the EA Masters does, is to bring people together to enable a meaningful connection with a shared experience. Our members also experience this six times a year at our Group meetings and on our Blue Sky event.

I realise that whilst social media allows me to have a quantity of interaction it’s often lacking the quality that’s required for truly effective, mutually beneficial, long term relationships – these need face to face time rather than “FaceTime”!

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