Call me old-fashioned, but the one low-tech item I never expected to see threatened with extinction was the humble but indispensable business card. After Last Thursdayâ€™s re:think08, the fifth edition of the seminar on event marketing and team building put on by the communications company Impact Unlimited, Iâ€™m not so sure. The event had some terrific speakers and ideas (more about them in a minute), but my top takeaway was . . . the name tags.
Not just any name tags, of course, but nifty high-tech numbers called nTAGs that let participants automatically swap contact info, plus data about interests and skills, simply by pointing their badge at another personâ€™s badge. The tags also track who meets who and generate statistics that can be used to improve meetings. For example, at this meeting 1,258 cards were exchanged among 119 attendees for an average of 10.6 per attendee. The top networkers in the group met 60-65 people, which means that they interacted with 50 percent of the attendees! (For examples of what you can do with this sort of numbers, see nTAG inventor Rick Borovoyâ€™s fascinating blog.)
As for those speakers, the most invigorating was Scott Belsky, founder and CEO of Behance, who offered more than 20 tips on how to â€œmake ideas happen.â€ Belsky believes there are too many ideas in the world and not enough action. He argues against e-mail, for nagging, and he says you can never consider a task delegated until the person you delegate it to actually accepts it. At re:think he emphasized the importance of actually capturing incoming good ideas: Be sure you talk last, so you donâ€™t silence the people who work for you, he suggested. And remember that ideas come in at hectic moments; have a system for recording them. (For more Belsky tips, look here.)
If Belsky was about process, Chuck Martin, author of â€œSmarts: Are We Hardwired for Success?” looked at behavioral skills that determine success in the workplace. His list: self-restraint, working memory, emotion control, focus, task initiation, planning/prioritization, organization, time management, defining/achieving goals, flexibility, observation, and stress tolerance. Martin is chairman and CEO of NFI Research, a firm that analyzes business and management trends. You can find a collection of his columns here, including interesting pieces on the emerging talent shortage, stress tolerance, and why you need a vacation.