Belonging to a group is something most of us like yet some groups get a bad press. Is it really well earned PR? This post is about how Networking Groups never get a second chance to make a first impression, two examples of why it’s so important to follow up effectively and how feedback is “the breakfast of improvement”.
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A friend recently invited me to a breakfast meeting. I rarely turn down the opportunity to meet a friend in a semi-social setting. My experience is that these situations are often an opportunity to support them or extend my network. Rarely are they a waste of time.
In the lead up to the event I received many communications telling me what a fantastic experience it was going to be. But when I arrived there was no one to greet me. I signed myself in. I then found somewhere to hang my coat and I helped myself to a cuppa. A”Hello” would have been nice.
First impressions last!
I started chatting to a chiropractor, who turned out to be a visitor like myself. We were then engaged by my friend, who apologised for the lack of a welcoming party and explained how things would work. It seemed quite straightforward. We would eat, we would talk, we would leave “connected”.
The talking and connecting were constantly interrupted by noises coming from the basement, there were builders downstairs and they weren’t there for the breakfast. I couldn’t hear myself think,. It appeared the restaurant had a problem, which at first was simply an inconvenience. However, when a film of dust started to work its way towards us as we ate breakfast, I decided it was probably safer not to finish my eggs! Hurrumph!
Follow up needs to be based on the event
I received two different follow ups after this meeting. The first was a call from the group leader asking if I would like to come back, yet they didn’t leave me a number to call backl. The next was a call from a member who told me they needed my help to fulfil a “quota” and asked if I would mind paying a few quid to help him avoid a £250 penalty. No apology for the noise or the dust. And I’ve heard from neither since.
Subsequently, I received an invite from another contact asking me to attend an event at the same venue. I politely declined as I’m not really a fan of venues that do not make sure the food they sell is going to be edible.
Wrap up: What on Earth were they thinking? Were they seriously trying to grow the group? One of the questions I get asked most often is which is the best networking group in London. Brand is important so be careful about your events, venues and suppliers. Group leaders should do what’s necessary to ensure everything visitors experience is memorable for the right reasons. And follow-up to find out if it was.
Top Tip: I would have been constructive with feedback, given the opportunity. I was recently coated in dust from building works at a fashion retailer. The shop manager called me later the same day to apologise. I was very impressed with that.
Who to share this with: group leaders, venues and companies that supply them.