Searching for life’s meaning and a job in a new town where I didn’t know anyone, I entered a downtown brewery on some random side street. Seemed stylish enough, a speed networking event with some enterprising people in a relaxed atmosphere eating Nachos and guzzling root beer on the rocks.
But this wasn’t the venue, which was my clue first this night wasn’t going to be enjoyable. They told me the speed networking shindig was being held upstairs. So I went up there and entered a side room that seemed to shrink as you walked in like that freaky scene in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. There are three or four odd-looking people standing around forlornly. Nearby seven lame picnic tables were lined up in the shape of a rectangle. The organizer offered me to write my name on a name tag but I didn’t want anyone to know who I was.
For those of you who haven’t been fortunate enough to attend a speed networking gala, they go like this. Two complete strangers sit crammed together at opposite sides of a table. For two minutes one tells their story shares their business acumen and paint a picture of how they plan to make riches starting that night because they got off their couches and went to a speed networking event.
Then the other person does the same self-absorbed drill for two minutes. After that, those two people split up and sit at different tables and do the same schtick with other strangers. The fun doesn’t stop until you’ve sat across from the other 11 people and heard their sob stories and shared yours.
From this amazing night, I took away permanent memories of three people I sat across from. The first was a guy whose skull was as thin as a number two pencil and as long as a yardstick that somehow had room for a half-baked mustache.
He kicked off our conversation by laying out five different business cards as a card dealer would in Vegas at a five-card stud table. Each card validated these were five different businesses Pencil Head said he was already thriving in. One was something about mysticism training, another concrete value-added reselling. The other three ventures had no connections to the first two or two each other.
But Pencil Head spoke with astounding assurance that all five of these businesses were already rocket ship enterprises and were perfect blends of his strategic synergizing. He leaned in, stared into my eyes, and left me chilled by this:
“I believe I’m destined for greatness.”
My first thought was this seemed unlikely because none of the five businesses he told me about resonated as something that had the potential to deliver any benefits that any person could ever have possibly wanted to buy.
But he was so cool in his confidence, so willing to stare down a total stranger and tell him about his destiny to become one of the great success stories of all time, that I kind of believed him.
Then the whistle went off. It was time to move to the next table to meet someone else. This one, for me, was another self-assured woman around 60 who started off telling me she was originally from Buffalo and had moved to this new town seeking greener pastures.
“Who do you work for?” I asked.
“I work for the man upstairs.”
My first thought was she was talking about working for God. My second thought was it seemed too quick to start talking about God with a total stranger. Then I started wondering how much the man upstairs pays per hour.
Before I got to tell her my story, the whistle blew again. I’m sure she was relieved.
The next guy was the best dressed of all of us sporting a gray suit. Out to impress, he came out hot regaling me with his tale that he had developed a software that could enable companies to have a 86 percent success rate in hiring the exact right person to fill their open positions.
To me, it sounded like a high number when you consider all the problems that companies have finding the right people to grow their businesses. To me, it sounded like Gray Suit was either exaggerating the number or was wasting his time at a speed networking boondoggle.
If his software could spit out 86 percent success rates, then he probably had a very valuable software that every company in the world would want to buy right now and he would be better off selling it. If his software was all he claimed it to be, Gray Suit would be a billionaire within a year and on the cover of Inc. Magazine in his gray suit.
But no. Here he was with Pencil Head, Buffalo Betty, and me in a dingy, half-lit room sitting at a card table lying his ass off. Why I don’t know and never will.
This speed networking event came to a close putting all of us out of our miseries. I left thinking to myself that I would never attend a speed networking event again, although I grabbed one of Pencil Head’s business cards because I wanted to follow up with him on why his head was shaped like the male reproductive organ.
Sammy Sportface, a sports blogger, galvanizes, inspires, and amuses The Baby Boomer Brotherhood. And you can learn about his vision and join this group's Facebook page here:
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