It doesn’t have to be an engraved
invitation, just a clear and personal one.

My good friend, Jacki Hollywood Brown, expert organizer and founder of J-organize, told me about an experience she had recently. The director of a women’s networking group in her area contacted her, inviting her to a “guest day” for the group.

OK, that’s not quite accurate.

What actually happened was this person (we’ll call her “Irene”) sent what was essentially a form email to Jacki. The only personalization was that Irene said she had read an article that Jacki wrote. The “invitation” was essentially an advertisement for the “guest” event, but with no further information other than trumpeting what a great organization it was. Oh, and Jacki would have had to pay $35 for the pleasure of attending.

Now I’m not saying that this is a bad organization. I’m sure the members get as much out of their chapters as any other closed networking group (a group which only allows a single member from each profession). What irritated Jacki was the manner in which she was “approached”. So, how could Irene have done better?

  1. Make it personal. At the very least, Irene could have shown that she really cared about Jacki as a person. She could have actually addressed her by name. Instead of saying just “nice article” she could have made some specific comment about the article which would have told Jacki that she had read more than just the headline and the byline.
  2. Make it in person. Or at least by telephone. If this was an actual personal invitation, she could easily have located Jacki’s phone number to give her a call. At that time she could have had a short conversation with Jacki to find out more about her and to find out if this was something that Jacki would actually want to participate in.
  3. Make it clear. OK, here’s the rule: If you invite someone to be your guest at an event, you pay. Unfortunately, Irene’s message was either a vague invitation (which made no implication as to whether Irene was going to pay) or it was an advertisement — for a networking group. Either way it sent an unclear message.
As I said before, this may well be a great networking group. Unfortunately, Irene, being the group’s director didn’t really represent the group well. Who knows? If she had put in a little extra effort to network and not advertise, she might have been able to bring a powerful networker like Jacki into the group. Instead, she left Jacki with a bad taste in her mouth and no real desire to follow up further.
What a lost opportunity.
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons