What Might You Learn From Others?

By Sharon Worsley

If you have read any of my previous articles each month for The Canadian Business Journal, you will notice that much of the time I am sharing real-life examples of situations I encounter with both people in general and businesses. Then I ask you the reader to consider what I have shared and how it may impact your business in some way.

I do this intentionally because I have found that in general people can relate to stories and examine them in some way to gain insight or knowledge in how they can apply what they learn.

This article is no different, starting with the first story being about a recent networking event I signed up to attend. The organizer claims that this group is ‘Toronto’s Biggest Professional Networking Mixer.’ Granted they do have over 6,000 members in their Meetup.com group.

However, claiming you are the biggest and yet only having about 40 or so people show up is not being honest. I also checked their site afterwards to see the attendance of past events and it was not the biggest in the city by far.

When I arrived at the location where the event was being held, I asked the server how many seats had been reserved by the organizer, and she told me that the booking was for a maximum of 33 people if they were sitting at the tables. That certainly does not make it anywhere near ‘Toronto’s Biggest Professional Networking Mixer.’

I know that for a fact because I have been a guest speaker at some networking events where over 300 people were listening to my presentation, and the organizer didn’t have space to add any more attendees even though people had indicated they wanted to hear me speak.

In the end, at this event, people were crowded standing between tables, so I am confident in my estimation that there were about 40 in attendance. So why get peoples expectations high to sign up to what is boasted as the biggest networking event in the city when that is clearly not the case. It turns people off, and you possibly lose them for future events tarnishing your reputation and brand.

I listened to several people at the event who were disappointed by the turnout. After all, it meant they were giving up their time from something else to be there with an expectation of meeting possible new clients, referral partners or businesses where they might use the products or services for either in their business or personal life.

On that evening, it was also Game 6 of the NBA Championships, so some people were coming out to network then rushing home or to another event to watch the game with family and friends. I wonder how many people in attendance will go out to this networking group again.

Meanwhile, the restaurant where the event was being held was filling up fast with people arriving to watch the game. So, I left the networking event and made my way to a stool at the bar to watch the game. All was going well until the 3rd quarter when I started to feel water falling on me, not on my food (luckily) but on me. I looked up to see water collecting on the ceiling above where I was sitting.

I immediately mentioned to the bartender that it seemed that water was coming from the ceiling and falling on me, my eyeglasses and my clothes. She replied that yes, there was a leak for some time, and the owner was working on having it fixed.

My first thought was why they didn’t block out that spot at the bar, so no one would have to sit and have water fall on them. There was no apology or even an offer to buy a drink for me as a goodwill gesture for this situation. I was stuck there by then because there were no available seats in the entire restaurant with many people now standing in the aisles, including behind my chair. I couldn’t even move the chair to either side or move back to avoid the leak.

Had the owner done the right thing earlier in the evening and taken the chair away and made a sign that this spot was not available I would not have sat there but would have had time to find another place to watch the game.

This incident was a sad reflection on the establishment. Then it got even worse as I made my way down to the ladies’ restroom before leaving to go home (after the Raptors won the NBA Championship of course). One of the stalls had a door that was half ripped off, so there was no privacy, and the surroundings were not only old and not cared for but dirty and disorganized.

Yes, it had been a busy evening with the restrooms likely getting a lot of traffic, but the overall condition of the restrooms is one of the worst I have encountered in the city. Interestingly I had been to this restaurant for another event about 12 months ago, and the restaurant was in better condition. After seeing this and experiencing what I did at the bar with the ceiling leak, I will not be going back there.

Additionally, I know some organizers that have held events there in the past and I will be proactive in voicing my concerns about the current condition of this restaurant including the owner not being concerned for the customers and that it might be best for my contacts to find another restaurant to use for future events.

Now you might be thinking ‘but Sharon I don’t own a restaurant or run a networking group, so this doesn’t apply to me.’ My response would be that it could apply to you if for a start you are claiming some title like ‘World’s Greatest,’ North America’s #1 (fill in the blank), or Best (whatever), when in fact you don’t know that for sure or can’t prove it. I see this type of thing constantly in different businesses and industries.

People have become jaded with these artificial claims of a business or business owner being the greatest or No.1 of anything. It can work against you – so, stop it.

Then with regards to the restaurant episode, if you have a brick and mortar location, what condition is it in when customers, clients or patients come in. I have been in offices with stacks of paper abounding, old coffee cups sitting around, and a mess everywhere you look. It sends a possible message that you are not organized in your office, so will you be organized with my business matters?

Or in the case of a leaking ceiling, it tells me that the owner was likely more interested in filling that seat and making money that night than being concerned for the mess of my clothes and my experience as I watched the game and spending money on food and drinks.

Points to Ponder:

• Where do you need to clean up your environment – this can include a physical location, your website, emails etc. where your client or prospective client can see how you are running things?
• What message are you sending regarding what service or product you are providing to the marketplace? Are you making claims that are essentially not true just to appear better than the competition because you think people will believe you?
• What can you do to take better care of your clients to show you genuinely care about them and the business they give you?

Sharon Worsley, The Business Development Ninja™ is the creator of the R7 System™ to Flood Your Business With Clients Today, Tomorrow and Beyond, helping businesses to ‘Wake Up, Shake Up, and Show Up.’ She also consults and coaches peak performers to excel as leaders. To learn more, contact Sharon at info@sharonworsley.com.