Kelly Hoey speaking at Inspirefest 2017. Image: Conor McCabe Photography

In a world of robots, human connection is more important than ever

10 Aug 2017

How can you be a master communicator? Kelly Hoey has some tips for better human interaction in an increasingly automated world.

Kelly Hoey, networking expert and author of Build Your Dream Network, was in Dublin last month at Inspirefest 2017 to offer some advice on communication skills, which are invaluable for any career path.

Much to the audience’s delight, Hoey opened her talk with a video taken at Snoop Dogg’s performance at Jazz Fest 2017 in New Orleans. However, Snoop Dogg was not the main focus of the video. Instead, he was upstaged by sign language interpreter Holly Maniatty, whose vibrant performance of his lyrics drew much adulation in the online realm.

Referring to her as a ‘master communicator’, Hoey explained that Maniatty studies an artist intensely before a concert, focusing on body language, varying dialects and how words convey multiple meanings, in order to create the most genuine experience possible for deaf patrons.

Hoey noted that, while Snoop Dogg performed a 50-minute set at Jazz Fest, Maniatty prepared for more than 50 hours.

So what does this have to do with networking and human interaction? According to Hoey, it’s all about connecting with your audience.

“Your goal in networking is to be heard.

“How much time are you spending building trust, delivering value, because you’ve listened and you’ve observed, and, dare I say it, you’ve checked the data?”

You are not a robot

Hoey cited predictions that AI, chatbots and conversational interfaces are expected to make up a market worth $600bn by 2020.

So, as processes become more automated and machines perform tasks traditionally undertaken by humans, how can people improve their own working environments? Personalisation and customisation.

Hoey said we need to tailor each method of communication to each situation, as every person is unique. “Don’t serve me up some mobile ad that’s for a product or service I’m not gonna use.”

She continued: “If the machines are learning human characteristics, ask yourself: what are we teaching them? All of our bad habits? We’re the teachers of technology, and we aren’t using the data and the tools to elevate our own relationships and to connect better.

“Just like the machines, you need to develop your human skills.”

Connected economy

Hoey noted that human interaction is at the core of the connected economy era. “It’s the people behind it; it’s the relationships that are important, and matter more than ever before in this hyper-connected world we live in.”

Quoting Jeffrey Hayzlett, she said: “Relationships matter, and we have forgotten that intimacy can exist in a digital environment through data responses and personalisation.”

In order to transform the way we think about networking, we need to develop a more human approach to our actions.

“I want you to stop worrying about how you’re going to ‘work the room’. I want you to start worrying about, ‘How am I gonna connect?’”

In conclusion, if we remember what sets us apart from the machines, we can learn to be better communicators, networkers and conversationalists, therefore ensuring that shiny metal never conquers flesh and blood.

Inspirefest is Silicon Republic’s international event connecting sci-tech professionals passionate about the future of STEM. Ultra Early Bird Tickets for Inspirefest 2018 will be on sale soon. Sign up here to be the first to know when!

Want stories like this and more direct to your inbox? Sign up for Tech Trends, Silicon Republic’s weekly digest of need-to-know tech news.

Shelly Madden
By Shelly Madden

Shelly Madden joined Silicon Republic as sub-editor in September 2016 to realise her lifelong dream of being a professional nitpicker. Before this, she worked as a freelance writer for various newspapers and made coffee for people who use the word ‘expresso’. She enjoys red wine on rare occasions, such as weekdays and weekends.

Loading now, one moment please! Loading