As the world emerges from lockdown and international travel begins to ramp up, one key question arising in the minds of many is: Do we really need to meet in person again?
I contend: We absolutely do.
In September of last year, I took advantage of some newly opened travel options to the U.K. from the U.S. For the first time in months, I hopped on a flight in St. Louis, Missouri, and headed across the pond to my old stomping grounds. I was speaking at London Tech Week, a gathering of innovators and entrepreneurs from around the world meeting in-person and virtually in London.
At that time, the U.K. was just emerging from its most recent shutdown, and the atmosphere was electric. People wanted to connect. They wanted to discuss their visions to enter international markets. They wanted to partner. And they wanted to socialize. It was like they had just been released from their cages and they wanted to rapidly reconnect with humanity.
Fast forward to March 2022 when my next international opportunity for a hop across the pond occurred. I was invited to join Missouri’s Governor Michael Parson as part of his trade mission delegation to Ireland and the U.K.
As the trip progressed, the power of in-person again grew apparent. Projects were started. Investments were committed. Plans for future collaboration were espoused. Relationships were started and strengthened.
Our colleagues told us the fact that we took the time to visit in person spoke volumes about how much we value the partnerships we have with organizations and people in those two countries and how much we prioritize building new ones. Missouri and the U.K. are already again partnering in agtech, innovation, financial services and geospatial.
The in-person presence of the Governor and other elected officials and leaders accelerated things forward in dynamic ways. Excitement about more collaborative opportunities between the Missouri and U.K. governments took on renewed importance.
The world is opening up again. The power of direct engagement remains a key catalyst in the world of communication, marketing, business, academia, research and diplomacy. My organization saw that in Ireland and the U.K.—all because we decided to show up in person.
Check out the full Forbes article here.