The women’s networking meeting was minutes from my suburban home in a hotel I knew had adequate parking, spacious ballrooms and standard hotel fare. Refreshments at these gatherings were secondary to the purpose in going; make connections, meet people and in this case, to hear the speaker, Hank Phillippi Ryan. She is a well-known Boston based investigative TV reporter who had also authored several books and that made the package complete. This “trifecta” of compelling reasons to attend; proximity, demographic and possibilities made my decision easier than usual. While it is true that I can spin the rationale to suit myself, I had a good feeling as I registered on-line. Not only was this a group I had heard about from someone I respected professionally, but when there is a speaker, there is also a defined program and a learning opportunity at hand.
Dressed in my very expensive suit that I wore only to networking meetings along with a big smile, I approached the registration table in search of my nametag and a greeting from the woman seated behind it. She and another woman were deeply engaged in a conversation related to their field and not interested one iota in me. After a polite period of time, with no welcome forthcoming, I spied my nametag and grabbed it. Perhaps startled by my action, they paused for a millisecond but by that time I was on my way to the coat check. (Please keep in mind that at many networking events, your business name generally appears under yours on the nametag.)
The ballroom was enormous, far too large for the turnout, but our author was ready with her books and happily chatting with another attendee. I introduced myself and joined the conversation, purchased a book and asked her to sign it. She looked at my nametag quizzically and I thought she asked if it should be addressed to me or to someone else. Whether she heard my response, I do not know; it was hard to hear much above the noise. So I nodded in the affirmative as she wrote something, smiled and handed the book back to me.
I did not see any familiar faces as I made the rounds. As usual, I introduced myself and asked others about what brought them to the event. Again, I received so many odd looks that I was ready to grab a mirror from one of the vendors to see what was wrong. Finally, someone I knew approached me with several women in tow to make introductions. Another double-take and I had the answer to the mystery and those questioning glances: I was wearing the nametag of Janet the Plumber, the same nametag Janet and others had been searching for.
The author and her staff had quite a laugh as did everyone else I’d just had the pleasure of meeting. It certainly made for a memorable evening and in the future, I highly recommend checking your nametag twice before clipping it to your lapel…or not. You just never know who you will meet and how you will be remembered but I do know that more than one woman told me that she thought I was quite a snappy dresser and far more stylish than her plumber!
© 2010/2019 Maureen Weisner