Recently I watched an episode of Celebrity Apprentice. I’ll admit, I’m not much of a reality TV fan, however, much like the presentations about personality that many employers put their workers through, it is a great opportunity to observe and reflect.
I have had many things happen over my blog hiatus. (A hiatus which I must say was unintentional.) I started a job with a new company and took on even more tasks than I thought I would have due to another employee taking a new position. I was a bit doubtful that this position was right for me when I started, but now after nearly two months, I think it may be the best fit I have had yet.
This new position gives me the opportunity to network with a wide variety of individuals. I have started attending networking events again in order to put our business name on the lips of the people customers trust most: their friends and family. Our business started in this way and to still be around 10 years later, we must be doing something right.
I attended a free networking meeting in my area a couple weeks ago. (It was actually the third networking event I attended that week.) I knew the organizer from a previous networking endeavor I had hosted a couple years ago. The meeting went well and I felt I made some decent connections. There was another individual there who had a business in the same industry as me, however the customers we service are on different levels (personal vs. business). When I sent an email to the organizer apologizing for not having a chance to speak with her after the meeting, she sent back a reply telling me that I was not welcome to come back to her FREE networking meeting as it would pose a conflict due to already having someone in my industry already involved. (Apparently, it didn’t matter that we service a different group of customers.)
In my email, I also tried to hire this woman to assist me in further organizing my home office now that I work remotely. Her other business is Conquer Your Clutter Organizing. (Go ahead. Google it.) Upon realizing that we had previously met at another networking event, at which I might add, I gave her business featured exposure, she replied to my request for a quote with an apology stating, “I do not feel we have a good connection and I will not be able to provide organizing services to you. I appreciate your understanding.”
So, now, I will no longer be able to offer referrals to her group as I’m not welcome there, according to her. I have to look elsewhere for organizational needs and I feel I also have the duty to tell people this story. I thought the purpose of networking was such that you built a professional network of individuals whom you trusted enough to pass on referrals to or at the very least could learn from. Maybe I was wrong? Or maybe I won’t even notice that my network is one name shorter today. (“I wish you all the best with your group as well as your business but am sure you can understand why I will be removing you from my professional network.”)
I do enjoy helping people. I always have. I’m pretty sure it was somewhere around the second grade when I got the “Best Helper” award in my class. It’s in my nature to want to see others succeed. Currently that means helping people I know who are unemployed scout for jobs, helping business owners who are looking for great employees to find who they are searching for, and serving on a board of directors in a capacity where I’m trying to help college students get the most out of their studies while allowing them to network with successful business men and women in the fields for which they hope to find jobs. (I also serve on five other committees within this same organization.)
One thing, however that truly burns me seems to happen time and again. People love to take advantage of the “helper”. Before I was a member of the professional organization to which I now belong, I was a member of one of the student chapters. I served as both Vice President and Promotions/Fundraising Committee Chair. Along with the then President, we created a fundraising event that put our chapter out into the community. Essentially we hosted a workshop that showed off our student knowledge and also allowed the public to learn some things the college didn’t teach. (This was VERY important. We could not “teach” anything, only present information as we were not certified instructors.) Over the course of the semester, we planned out every detail of the event, right down to the time line of promotions through completed evaluations. It was a step by step process. The time the President and I sank into this project was immense.
Now, nearly two years later, I was sitting down to dinner at the professional chapter monthly meeting. One of the student members (who is currently the President of that chapter) was also at my table. She was explaining to the other students that I was one of the creators of the fundraising workshop along with the former student chapter President and herself. I wouldn’t have believed her to have the guts to blatantly lie about that right in front of me, but part of the reason (other than the fact I was graduating) that I left the student chapter was due to an allegation that I was an alcoholic. This was nothing more than a rumor, but it was enough of one that I saw it as my time to leave with my head held high and take my place with the parent professional chapter. (And for the record, I’m pretty sure someone would have determined I was an alcoholic long before now if it were true. I had been a bartender for nearly 15 years at that point already.) I am fairly certain that this woman was a proponent of that rumor going around, especially due to the fact that by me stepping down, she got the position she really wanted in the club.
I still do not understand why some people feel this is the best way for them to get ahead in life. It brings me back to my Celebrity Apprentice episode. Aubrey O’Day was doing the same thing I see so many people do. She pushed her way into getting exactly what she wanted and when it was wrong, she couldn’t handle the truth about herself or the situation. (And yes, for those of you who want to make the argument that there is a LOT of editing that happens on those shows, I fully understand and will agree with you, however I am talking about just what I saw, not the “what wasn’t said” part of the situation.) I won’t lie, we all suffer from foot in mouth syndrome sometimes, but when you honestly can’t see the truth in front of you when every last person is telling you the same thing about yourself, it may be time to stop and reevaluate some things. Rather than continue to fight and show her potential, she walked out with a comment about not wanting to be around all the negativity. Sometimes looking in the mirror hurts. I know I have been in that situation, but I am grateful to my friends that can show me my true self and give me the opportunity to change the things that need changing. It’s a lesson everyone eventually learns and some truths are just darker and more sinister than others.