It’s Still 2020 Somehow
This past August 20th, a combination of European-American Chambers of Commerce, of which I heard BelCham was the ringleader (can you confirm, Belgians?), organized another fabulous virtual networking “speed-dating” event called The Ripple 2.0. As I mentioned in my article on the first Ripple, the event consisted of up to twelve 12-minute video calls, all operated within a Belgium-based app called Conversation Starter.
This time was a wild ride for me, as I filled up all my twelve slots, so I had to make sure to keep a supply of water and fun snacks on my desk to sustain my energy (pro-tip: don’t snack on Skittles or popsicles unless you want your professional contacts to think something is very wrong with you). I read that after four meetings there would be a quick break, which was a welcome development; no matter how much I like meeting new people, brain exhaustion does set in, and “tell me about what you do” can quickly become “tell me about what I do?”.
Something fun happened to me right off the gate – my first contact was late by 3.5 minutes. “That’s fine”, I thought, as I combed my hair in the video reflection and moved all my cat’s toys out of the camera view like a professional. She came on at about the 8.5 minute mark, all was well, and we had a great chat. With about 10 seconds left I said goodbye, and she said, “no, but there’s still 3 minutes” and I was confused, but 10 seconds later, as my timer predicted, the call ended. Weird, I thought, but soldiered on bravely. Then, the second person was late, too! “Gee, what is it with all these latecomers,” I thought. “Are we just overly punctual in Canada?” After this happened with person 4 and 5, I finally begin to catch on (yes, it took me a while) that something was wrong on my end, because none of the contacts mentioned being delayed at all. I thought that since I had cancelled one of my meetings (the person had asked to reschedule), that I had somehow screwed up the whole system.
A few days later, Rutger Bevers from Conversation Starter explained to me that the simple explanation was that my clock was simply not in sync with the one in the App, making it mistakenly seem like everyone was late. So here I was, annoyed at everyone’s tardiness and inventing conspiracy theories about being sucked into an alternate time dimension, and the issue was…my clock was 3 minutes ahead. To be fair, I’m a millennial, I’m not used to looking at clocks.
Aside from that completely unnecessary story, the Ripple 2.0 was a lot of fun, as I not only got to chat with many new people, but managed to contact others who did not have available timeslots in order to schedule quick chats with them later, when my brain was under better operating conditions. It’s great how Conversation Starter provides people’s contact info if you’re not able to connect during those 2.5 hours – it takes the pressure off of having to maximize each slice of time.
Chatting with professionals from different fields, both in May and in August of this – let’s say interesting– year, I saw a marked change, as we went from worrying about the situation with the hope that it would be over quickly back in May, to having a clearer and calmer (even if more depressing) realization that COVID’s effects will be around for quite some time.
I look forward to the next Ripple in the Fall, at which point the global situation will hopefully be much improved, preferably without bleach!