Several weeks ago I received a phone call inviting me to attend a meeting with a group of business people who meet once a week over lunch at a nearby restaurant to discuss local affairs and provide each other with potential business leads.
I was advised to be there early so as to ensure that I would have a seat and that, while the person calling me would not be present, I would be welcomed by those club members in attendance.
I arrived a few minutes before the scheduled time and was ushered to a private meeting room off to the side of the restaurant.
The room contained an improbably long rectangular table with place settings for thirty. There were four people gathered around the far end of the table discussing club affairs.
As I entered the room they each glanced over at the door and then resumed their conversation.
I selected a seat close to the center of the table and sat down.
Shortly after noon three of the four of them headed to their seats, each glancing at me without so much as a head nod.
The fourth person positioned himself behind a podium at the head of the table and introduced himself as the president of the club.
I was sitting midway down the table to his right and he angled his rather ample body so as to face the three folks who were sitting near the head of the table to his left.
He proceeded to read the rules of the club and then announced that, as is the custom at these meetings, each member would rise and offer a brief bio of himself and the type of business he was in.
I learned that the word brief has no universal meaning as he regaled us with a fascinating account of his life and his brilliant accomplishments for almost twenty minutes all delivered in a painfully dull monotone while not once shifting his gaze from his three cohorts.
I got the feeling that he repeats this speech each week.
One by one the others followed suit. I was riveted by the speech delivered by the Membership Chairman as he described the challenges of attracting new members to the club.
Just as the fourth person finished his delivery the chairman, for the first time, glanced my way and opened his mouth as if to address me.
At that very moment the door opened and a waiter wheeled in a tray with our meals.
Mr. President, still facing me, looked over at the tray and said, “Oops, I guess we’re out of time.”
Over lunch the four of them resumed their earlier discussion. I can’t say that I was completely ignored because there was a moment when the Club Treasurer turned his head towards me and said “Lunch is twenty dollars.”
Engaging fellow that he is, he immediately followed up with “do you want a receipt?’
Shortly after finishing my meal I stood up, loudly cleared my throat, and left.
No-one even glanced in my direction.
Why, you ask, am I telling you this?
Because it actually happened.
Now, as I have said many times before on these pages, I’m not too bright but I just don’t get it.
Now it seems to me – and this may be because I’m not too bright and don’t understand the sophisticated ways of the world – that if you want someone to join your club; be part of your group; join your company; orsupport your organization then acknowledging their presence may, perhaps, be a good starting point.
Is it possible that including your guests in conversation may be a way of making them feel welcome?
Could it be that telling them of the benefits of joining your club may encourage them to want to be a part of it?
Perhaps talking about yourself for twenty minutes, one third of the allotted meeting time, is fascinating and awe inspiring to you and you alone?
And maybe they ignored me because I’m so ignorable.
I know I’m not that engaging.
I know I’m not a great conversationalist.
I know my life story has anaesthetic properties.
I know I’m not good looking like that guy from The Mentalist.
Do you know what else I know?
I know I will never recommend anyone to that club.
I know I will tell this story often and it will get better in the telling.
I know I will never be a customer of any of their businesses.
I think I’ll go back next week.
The chicken Caesar salad was superb.
Till we read again.
P.S. My threat last week of writing a daily blog scared a few of you into referring my blog to your friends. Thanks, Rael