Monday, January 31, 2011

Back Away from the Keyboard...

This morning my alarm clock went off at 7:00am, just as it does on most work days. Like most anal-retentive coders, I have my morning routine, which includes the usual suspects like brushing teeth and shuffling into the kitchen for that all important initial cup of coffee. Once my breath is fresh and my eyelids are open, I flip on the computer and wallah! I'm at work for the day. My work day routine begins by scanning my work, Coder Coach, and client email accounts. Sometimes I venture onto the Coder Coach page on Facebook to see if anyone has posted anything. Maybe I send or receive an IM to or from a client or coworker. Maybe I actually pick up the phone and call someone (not terribly likely). But rarely, in my daily dealings as a remote coding consultant, does my work involve face-to-face communication with people. And frankly, I miss it.

Let me be clear. I love communicating through email. I have relationships with friends in other states solely based on email. I have trouble communicating with people who hate email. I have access to six email accounts, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Yahoo IM on my iPhone. In other words, I am always virtually connected to just about any of my contacts at any given time. But there is no substitute for in person communication. And that's part of the reason why my Coder Coach events are not offered in an audio conference format.

I've been asked by several people from out of state to offer my Coder Coach events as webinars. Besides the fact that I have oodles of experience as a webinar presenter - for several years I presented 2-3 webinars per month - and I understand all too painfully well everything that could possibly go wrong with the technology aspect of the presentation (I know Murphy well!), I have no desire to feed into the increasing trend of discouraging face-to-face communication. And speaking of feeding, public speaking is one of my favorite things - it energizes me and feeds my desire to keep going with my career. Webinars just aren't the same. Frankly, my pets don't seem as enthused about learning coding as my human audiences (normally) do!

And it's not just the novices who want to network from afar. This new year means a lot of committee and board work for me. And even though my board meetings are offered in a conference call format, I try to attend the meetings in person. Two of the committees I work with have decided not to offer conference calls for their meetings because the chair persons are growing concerned about the lack of face-to-face networking among professionals. There are more opportunities to get educated remotely and that means that those face-to-face networking opportunities are more important than ever. Because if you're trying to break into the industry, look for a new job, or just (as my father used to say), "blow the stink off," you need to get away from your gadgets, get out of the house, and start talking to people.

So I encourage all of you to back away from the keyboard every now and then... that is, after you've researched online for the best local networking event. And get out and meet someone in person!

For local events near you, visit AHIMA's state component association web page at http://www.ahima.org/about/csa.aspx or the AAPC's local chapter finder web page at: http://www.aapc.com/localchapters/find-local-chapter.aspx.

Happy networking!

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