There’s nothing like getting the gang together. Salespeople have great power and energy when we gather in person and share successes, ideas and information. At conferences, we learn as much from conversations with peers in the hallways outside the sessions as we do inside. But with the web, there is no “hallway” to congregate in.

At a recent conference, an attendee sat down near me and proceeded to place the following three devices on the table, one at a time:

  • iPhone
  • iPad
  • Laptop

 All three. Right in front of her. During a conference presentation. So much for being present.

No toys at the table. My conference tablemate worked on all three devices during the entire presentation. Maybe she was tweeting, answering emails or writing a blog post. I’ll never know for sure. But I do know she couldn’t possibly give her full attention to the speaker. So why did she even bother to attend? How did she ever hope to connect with the speakers, her fellow tablemates or other conference attendees?

How hard is it to just unplug? True, fancy new technology is alluring. It’s easy to get sucked into the digital universe. But you need to connect person to person first if you ever hope to expand your network. The power of connections is infinite—and I’m not talking about computers.

The new technology problem. In a recent San Francisco Chronicle article entitled “Internet Addiction Can Harm Real Relationships,” the author outlined the signs of technology addiction. Here are some questions to help you diagnose an Internet addition:

  • Do you spend excessive time online or more than you intended?
  • Do you feel more depressed or lonely the more time you spend online?
  • Do you have a heightened sense of euphoria while online or using a computer?
  • Is it interfering with your job or school performance?
  • Do family or friends complain about the time and energy you spend online?
  • Do you frequently choose spending time online over going out with other people?
  • Do you hide, lie or become defensive about online activities?

Bring back balance. Has our dependence on technology gone a little too far? What’s happened to our ability to talk to people, to share ideas face to face, to connect on both a business and personal level? People do business with people. Period.

There’s a saying among salespeople that customers buy with emotion and justify with fact. If people don’t like us or don’t feel comfortable with us, they won’t connect with us or build relationships with us.

If people don’t start liking you within the first few seconds, they may never like you. Waving around your fancy gizmos won’t make that connection happen, but being present and available for real-life interaction will.

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Joanne Black is a professional sales speaker, sales webinar leader, and author of “No More Cold Calling: The Breakthrough System That Will Leave Your Competition in the Dust” from Warner Business Books. Visit www.nomorecoldcalling.com. © Copyright 2011 Joanne S. Black. All rights reserved.