Good manners or common sense?

I will start this post with some questions:

  • Have you ever been invited to a party, conference or another important event?
  • Would you find natural to reply, if you were invited by a personal invitation from somebody you know?
  • If you replied YES would you find natural to turn up trying to pay attention to place, date and time?
  • If you cannot make it at the last minute would you find natural to let your host know?
  • If you turn up would you find natural, as soon as you arrive, to go and look for your host to let him know you are there?
  • And at the end when you leave would you find natural to look again for your host, thank and say bye?

Without any doubt for me the answers are 6 times YES!

Perhaps it’s me and my way of dealing with people, perhaps it’s my way of demonstrating I appreciate other people and make sure they know it but how is it possible that any of the above has a NO as an answer?  Let alone that I am talking about an event where all visitors have the opportunity of meeting likeminded business people and exchange opportunities for business.

Well, what happened this morning made me think many people are very different in appreciating true business opportunities and respect for those that invite them: I was one of the organisers of a large visitors’ day for two joint chapters of BNI in Cambridge. BNI is a large (probably the largest) networking organisation in the world and I happen to currently be the director of the Trinity chapter in Cambridge. The well managed organisation paid back greatly: among the combined 50 members of the two chapters we managed to have over 120 visitors in the great hall at Hometon College and the whole event was a true success.

Nonetheless the inspiration to write this post came at the end of the morning when I did the math for my own guests.  I invited to this event 28 people out of a selected list of contacts, following some constraints we were given.  Here are some facts:

  • 4 of them thanked me for the invitation and accepted without the need for a follow up J
  • 1 of the others was kind of upset when I called him to find out if he was coming along: let alone I have asked him in person before sending the invitation and he was keen then…
  • At least 5 did not return my call when I followed up the invitation to check whether they were interested in taking part in the event
  • Between phone calls and Emails the total number of guest as of yesterday lunch time was 12 J
  • By 6pm the list was down to 9
  • This morning 7 people turned up J
  • 2 did not bother to say hello when they arrived
  • 3 left without letting me know they were leaving or saying bye
  • I found 1 Email of one of the missing guests that something came up very late last night
  • 2 sent a thank you Email J
  • 1 tweeted a thank you J

Perhaps there is scope for basic courses about how to network successfully by simply paying attention to common sense and good manners?  Or is it that most people in small businesses tend to be so overwhelmed, so overly busy that they forget how to behave?

Perhaps they need a coach 😉

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