Connecting at the annual connectivity event
By Tali Kramer
The headline theme of the in-person comeback of the annual Mobile World Congress (MWC22), which opened its doors in Barcelona on Monday was “connectivity unleashed”. Probably like many of the thousands of attendees, this was my first networking event for two years due to the constraints of the pandemic. And while the theme was supposed to be interpreted through a technological lens, it was personally hugely motivating and refreshing to be back to connecting face-to-face. Even standing in the queue in our KN95 masks waiting to enter the event felt exciting and people seemed patient, content and happy to chat while waiting their turn.
The GSM Association (GSMA) – which runs the event – described MWC as “a unifying” occasion for the mobile ecosystem and this really felt true. GSMA Director General, Mats Granryd, said: “We’re trying to emphasise that we’re moving away from just simple connectivity to meaningful connectivity”, adding that 5G meant it was now possible to unleash the full power of connectivity.
I couldn’t help but think that after being so disconnected for so long, it is quite ironic that my first trade show post-Covid was all about connectivity. When I think about what makes working as a consultant in PR so fun and rewarding it is all the teamwork, brainstorming and most of all, networking.
Networking is the sharing of information or services between people, businesses, or groups. It is also a way for individuals to grow their relationships for their job or business. As a result, connections or a network can be built and useful for individuals in their professional or personal lives. This element has been missing over the last few years and I personally felt almost giddy with excitement being able to network and chat to so many people. Pre- Covid, I always thought networking was a necessity and I do think we have all missed out as a result of not doing it in person. A mountain of research shows that professional networks lead to more job and business opportunities, broader and deeper knowledge, improved capacity to innovate, faster advancement, and greater status and authority. People I spoke to at MWC told me they missed rubbing shoulders and schmoozing so much that they turned up at MWC earlier than ever before and stayed later than before because they were relishing the opportunity.
While it’s true that most business interactions take place online—whether that’s over email, virtual meetings, or social media—we continue to place special importance on meeting people in person. According to a Forbes survey, 84 percent of executives say they prefer in-person meetings for their ability to build stronger and more meaningful business relationships. This certainly felt true this week and several colleagues mentioned to me that they felt that there were less meeting no shows or cancellations because people felt so grateful for the face to face interaction. Whilst we navigate the ever-changing business landscape in this new hybrid world, some back to basics old fashioned networking still needs to be part of our repertoire.
I really hope that we can go to many more networking events this year and make the most of opportunities to connect in person. Having the fun back in our jobs is what it is all about! We have all learnt from Covid that it is about making the most of the now.
Written by Tali Kramer, Director, Corporate & Campaigns