Don’t Be That Guy – We Got Snookered

Don’t Be That Guy – We Got Snookered

Originally posted 2011-02-20 13:27:49.

“Snookered – verb – Slang . to deceive, cheat, or dupe”

I knew things were going sideways before I even got there.  I had to deal with some issues at work (yes, I have a “real” job…all three of us do…this is all still done in what we laughingly call our “free time”…) and so I didn’t get out as early as I wanted to, which had me running late getting out to Snookers for our Pink Slip Party this past Thursday.  I hate running late, and so I was already in less than a perfect mindset when the text message came in from Bob at 3:58pm:

“Wow.  You are going to be pissed.”

Well that’s never a good sign.  Needless to say, I immediately called him and found out that they had us pigeon-holed in a back area that wouldn’t support one of our casual events, let alone a Pink Slip Party, and that they had completely overbooked the venue with other events going on.

I sped up a little bit.

When I arrived about 10 minutes later, the parking lot was packed.  Also never a good sign.

Not "Snooki". "Snookered".

Turns out that even though I had been discussing the event and getting everything setup with their event coordinator since November, somehow that information allegedly never made it to the on-site manager until Tuesday.  Which meant that they had gone ahead and completely overbooked the space.  One side of the place was full of poker tables ringed by what appeared to be film extras that have been out of work since the Sopranos went off the air.  And apparently there was a pool league coming in at six o’clock.  So the room they had us setup for was like the back room at the BlackFinn.  And it had two pool tables in it.

Phenomenal.  Those at our first Pink Slip Party in May of 2009 at the BlackFinn know how crowded that got.

Well, normal thoughts and processes went out the window at that point.  Gone was the concept of a registration table, and we certainly going to worry about having people fill out registration cards or anything upon arrival.  There simply wasn’t room for it, and we knew that adding any delays into the process would just make an already frustrating situation worse.  So we got the recruiters’ badges arranged as best we could with the space available, threw name tags and pens around the room where we could for everyone else to use, and braced for impact.

I’m pleased to say that the most commonly heard assessment of the night was “It was a success…in spite of the venue.”  It was way more crowded than we like our events to be (one of the reasons why we start looking at places months in advance…just sayin’…), which led to it being pretty warm back there.  It was hard for the wait staff to make their way around the room, let alone people just diving in.  We have no idea how many people were actually there since we couldn’t run our usual registration table…but it was pretty damn packed.

However, it wasn’t all bad.  Like I said, “it was a success…in spite of the venue”.

I heard from every recruiter there (and there were quite a few) that they all, every one of them, met some outstandingly qualified candidates.

I heard from every job seeker that I had the chance to speak with (and there were, again, quite a few) that they all, every one of them, met some awesome recruiters and had refreshed hope of finding a job.

I heard from a few folks that were there just looking to test the waters and expand their network a bit, and they met some great people as well.

I heard from a couple people that went to one of those lame “pay us $10 to $20 for the privilege of talking with MLM Guy and other people of no benefit to you whatsoever” events the night before.  I’m not above admitting that I was happy to hear that it’s everything we keep warning people that it is – useless, and that obviously the only benefit to events like that at all is the financial benefit to the out of town folks that run it.

I heard from a few job seekers that were annoyed that another job fair (reminder: they suck)  has shown it’s true colors and now wants to charge job seekers for the “privilege” of talking to a recruiter, or getting early admission to talk with people like Aflac or insurance brokers that line the walls of those events, or, really, just about anything and everything that they can do in order to try and get their hands in someone’s pocket.

I heard from some of the recruiters and companies on that same topic too, as many of them have now said they won’t be participating in anything that takes those tactics either.

Basically, I heard from a lot of people.

You know who I didn’t hear from?  And still haven’t heard from?  Anyone at Snookers.

Oh sure, that night I got a lot of finger pointing at the event coordinator, a lot of shrugs, and a lot of “there’s nothing we can do”…but not a single follow up.  Not even a call from the event coordinator to see how things went.

And I’ve got to tell you…even though I probably shouldn’t be by this point, I was surprised by that.  See, the whole reason why I started this process back in November was because we’re going to try our best to “walk the walk” and not just “talk the talk” this year.  See, “Detroit” is in the name of the group, and we’re all about helping the metro Detroit area get better…so wouldn’t it make sense if we focused our events on places that are locally owned and operated?  Of course it would.  I reached out to Snookers, because they’re a locally owned and operated group that has locations throughout the metro Detroit area, which fits in with our desire to move our events around this year nicely.

That won’t be happening…at least not with Snookers.  We’ll still keep moving our events around the metro Detroit area…but they’ll never get any more business from our group’s events.

I don’t know if it’s that they didn’t believe the numbers of people that I gave them, or if the event coordinator really did drop the ball, or if it was just simple greed to overbook a venue to maximize people and revenue in the same way that airlines overbook flights.  I don’t know because I still haven’t gotten a straight answer, and I’m done trying to get one.

See, we’ve had this happen before, but not since our second Pink Slip Party in 2009, which led to “You Can’t Always Get…What You Want” (http://www.ITinTheD.com/83/you-cant-always-get-what-you-want/) being written.  That’s why I say that I shouldn’t be surprised…but I still am.  We don’t ask for much, we really don’t.  We want to bring a few hundred people to a locally owned and operated venue.  Most buy drinks.  Many hang out and grab food.  I’ve heard from the places that we usually go that it’s a pretty good night for them when we have our events there.

So that’s how our first Pink Slip Party of 2011 went – a success…in spite of the venue.  Lesson learned.

Don’t forget that we’ve got our upcoming events that we hope you join us at.  We’ve already heard from several companies that heard about this recent event too late to make plans to attend, but plan on making sure that they’re at future events, both casual and Pink Slip Parties.  We look forward to seeing them, and you, at them.

We’ve got a casual networking event at the BlackFinn on March 10th.  Another casual event down at Hockeytown Cafe on March 23rd (with a Red Wings game!  Don’t forget the Red Wings game!)

And then our next Pink Slip Party on April 21st over at the Post Bar in Novi.  Where, for the record, we’ve never had a single problem at all, and they really know how to deal with people in an open, honest manner and really appreciate what we’re trying to do.

So if you happen to be an employee, an event coordinator, a manager or an owner of a locally owned establishment that can handle having a pretty good night when a group of professionals shows up at your door, we’d love to hear from you.

But yeah, you guessed it – Don’t Be That Guy.

David Phillips is the geek that’s been pushed into management roles over the span of his career. He’s been a helpdesk jockey, a team lead, a systems architect and even a Vice President over the course of his more than 20 years in information technology for a variety of industries. He’s been profiled by CNN’s Money Magazine for his work with the group, as well as being a regular speaker for the Michigan Shifting Gears program, winning 2013’s “Outstanding Contributor for the Transformation of Careers and Lives”.

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