When Good Local Networking Goes Bad

Networking SuxToday a friend called me. Nothing unusual there, until you learn they were calling me from the parking lot at a local b2b networking event and they’d just been embarrassed in front of their peers and associates.

Here’s how that happened ….So my friend (let’s call them Sam) arrived at a local b2b networking event and upon check-in, had been unceremoniously told – in front of their peers and associates – they weren’t welcome!

How cruel.

How unprofessional.

Apparently Sam had been vocal (in private mind you) about the behaviour of the event producers … and somehow they’d heard through the grape vine.

And rather than simply sending Sam a discreet email suggesting their attendance would not be welcome, they waited for maximum impact and embarrassment – at the event.

My friend – their usual stalwart self – shrugged it off, but the fact they called to tell me about this, was evidence this was “not cool” with them.

So what’s the big deal?

Sure, an event producer has the right to admit whomever they please. It’s a private event after all.

No, the issue is HOW they handled this.

I run events.

I’ve “dis-invited” certain people (not many) but I do it via email, quietly and well in advance of events. I let them know they’ve ‘rung the 3 strikes – you’re out’ bell.

This ONLY happens when MEMBERS actively and formerly complain in writing to me about someone. Then, and only then, do I act.

Believe me, I get my fair share of personal critics.

There’s a few people who have actively taken pot-shots at me on public platforms about how I do what I do. They’ve been cruel and critical of me and the events I produce.

But … I don’t punish them for their opinion. It stings to let their voice be heard, to let them attend, but as a producer of events I understand you’ll be a target of criticism and unless that criticism is reflected by at least 3 members, their feedback stays.

Not so with this other networking group.

They decided to punish Sam for being critical of their shenanigans (over promising, under delivering, changing dates without refunds etc.) and Sam isn’t the only person who’s taken issue with this group.

But Sam is being penalized for sharing their opinion.

This is the worse way to organize events.

If you choose to champion local b2b events then you must accept that YOU are no longer the centre, your members are. You must accept that you will take the hits and the criticism, and you need to suck it up.

Sure, if someone goes after your members or makes your members experience (at your events) an unpleasant one – then act.

But you NEVER – EVER – punish someone for expressing an opinion publicly about how you (as the organizer) run your events. That’s business.

Suck it up butter cup!

Or quit.

Frankly, picking on people wishing to attend your event is a d*ck move and about as low as you can get.

Anyway, if you’re an event producer and you learn that a member is openly vocal about your business model I would suggest you remember that IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU … It’s about your members.

Park the ego.

Get over yourselves.

And get back to building the experiences for the BULK OF YOUR MEMBERSHIP that you hoped to build when you started your group.

All I can say about Sam is that I hope they don’t give up on b2b networking because of this and keep attending events.

Thank fully, the kind of event producers I’m talking about here are few and far between. Most of my peers (and I don’t count these guys as peers!) are awesome people trying to make a difference … versus trying to squeeze everyone for a buck and punishing people for disagreeing with them.

© JamesBurchill.com

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