You Can’t Always Get…What You Want…

You can’t always get what you want, no!
You can’t always get what you want (tell ya baby)
You can’t always get what you want (no)
But if you try sometimes you just might find
You get what you need

– The Rolling Stones

I want to preface this little simmering rant of mine by saying “This probably isn’t about you.”

It’s not about you, the casual site visitor and reader that’s probably just starting to dip your toe in the water of the pool labeled “Social Networking for Professional Reasons”. Don’t worry, we have lifeguards on duty.

wantingIt’s not about you, our friend the job seeker, who comes to our events with hopeful anticipation in your heart and sweaty palms from the anxiety of hoping that someone in a room full of strangers will be able to help you find a job to save your house and keep your car from getting repossessed. Rest assured, we want the same thing – if you don’t find a job, then our event’s not successful no matter how many people show up.

It’s not about you, our friend the recruiter, who shows up with job requirements in mind praying that someone in the crush of people is the person that will not only meet your client’s requirements, but will also pass a background check, not flake out on you when it comes to interviewing, and enable you to keep an account open for another few months. Same thing here – if you don’t find the candidates you’re looking for, then our events are useless.

It’s not about you, our friends the bar managers and owners, who appreciate the business that comes along with anywhere from 100 to 400 people showing up on an otherwise random Thursday night to eat, drink, and mingle for several hours in your establishment. We’re happy to know that while we’re helping the other people in the room, we’re also helping you keep those local people employed as bartenders, waitresses, waiters, servers, bar-backs and security.

I know, I know…it seems like I’ve eliminated everyone, right?

Unfortunately…not so much.

See, this is for you, the person out there that doesn’t get it. You don’t get what we do…and you most certainly don’t get what we don’t do. You don’t get what we are, and are surely missing the boat on who we are not. You don’t get what we offer, or what we don’t. You don’t get us as at all…and so maybe it’s for the best that we just agree to part ways now before things get messy.

The worst part is…I don’t know how much more clear we can possibly be about things.

  • Our home page tells you that we’re the anti-group.
  • We have over a dozen blog entries, all titled “Don’t Be That Guy”.  You know a whole lot of groups out there that are calling people out and telling them why they’re not welcome?
  • Speaking of blogs…we even had a recruiter step in to be amazingly blunt and honest with you.  Are you getting that a lot of other places?
  • Our tagline is “Networking Detroit…One Beer At A Time”.  It doesn’t get any more casual than that.
  • We freely admit that we are completely stunned by what’s happening as a result of our events.
  • We tell you over and over and over again that we don’t do sponsors, we don’t do sales pitches, and that we’re completely informal.
  • We tell you pretty much what to expect from our events, and what will and will not fly.
  • We tell you that we have no vested interest in this.  None of us are recruiters.  We don’t make any money off this at all.  In fact, by and large, this is a net loss for all of us.  We buy the business cards, registration cards, badges, etc., out of our own pockets whenever we put on one of these events.  And time?  Ugh…forget about it.  I know what my hourly bill rate is through my current employer, and let me tell ya…I’m easy, but I’m not cheap.  All that time into finding a location, talking with recruiters, answering questions from people about our events and what they should expect…we’re seriously talking about at least a few man-days lost (easily) each month.

So, like I said – by and large, the majority of you that have read this far have been doing a lot of head nodding and saying “Uhh…Dave?  Duh.”  And, like I said…that means this isn’t about you.  Thank you for being a member.  Thank you for coming to our events.  Thank you for continuing to help grow and evolve into a group that I’m really proud to be a part of.

However, for those of you that haven’t been doing that…perhaps you’ve been snorting derisively, or rolling your eyes dismissively because you don’t think any of this has any bearing on your life…congratulations!  You’ve come to the right spot, because this one’s all for you, pal.

Example #1: Job Seeker That Doesn’t Get It
Like the job seeker who showed up at our event on August 27th, walked down the stairs, saw what was going on, huffed and puffed like he was looking to blow someone’s house down, made a grandiose announcement of “This is way too f’ing crowded” to all within earshot (he didn’t use a contraction, by the way…) and then stormed back up the stairs and out the door like I’d called his mother a cheap french whore.  I guess I should point out that I’m simply assuming that he was a job seeker, because that entire scene took about three seconds to play out and he was gone.

In one sense, he’s right.  It was crowded.  Based on the registration cards that were filled out by the arriving job seekers, three hundred and eleven job seekers were there, and that’s not even counting the recruiters.

Let me make sure I’m getting that point across properly – three hundred and eleven other job seekers walked down those same stairs, saw the same room, saw the same crowd, and said to themselves “Wow…this is crazy.  I sure hope I can find someone that can help me in this mess” and dove in.  Those are our kind of people.  You know how I know those are our kind of people?  Because we’re just as freaked out by these crowds when they appear at our events.  I think I have at least a vague inkling of what a victim of a flash mob must feel like.  I mean, the day before the event, we’d had about 200 job seekers that had sent in their resumes and let us know that they were planning on attending.

Two hundred’s big…but at least it’s still manageable.

Then…in the twenty four hours or so leading up to the event…it started happening.  The theme from Jaws started playing in the background, and with an eerie regularity emails like this started showing up:

“I just joined the group today after learning about it from a colleague. I am a job seeker and planning to attend the party tonight. Attached is a copy of my resume. Thanks!”

…and they just…kept…coming.  Even as Bob, Jeff and I were standing in Commune making sure that tables were placed just so, that badges were ready to go for the recruiters that we knew were coming…while we were doing all of that, every 90 seconds or so our crackberries would go off (note: Jeff gets cranky if I don’t point out that he’s “cool” and has an iPhone, and not a crackberry…so, adjust perceptions accordingly…[chuckle]), we’d look at each other and just say “Wow…there’s another one.  We’re gonna need a bigger boat.”

But what were we supposed to do?  Start replying with “Nope, sorry, too late, you can’t come.  Even though we throw these events to try and help people find jobs, we’re not going to help you find a job…”?!  I mean, I know that might have helped you Huffy McStairClimber, but it’s not about you.  Hell, it’s not even about us either if that makes you feel any better.  At some point in time, we’re just sort of along for the ride, and whatever’s going to happen is going to happen.  We’re not event planners – we’re two geeks and a sales guy, for cryin’ out loud.  We’re doing the best that we can.

And, just as a reminder – we’re doing it basically just to help people out.  Again – “free events”.  We don’t get money from the bars, the recruiters, or you, the job seekers.

So when you walk up to one of us and complain about it being too crowded, it tells us that you’re not serious – and, for the record, I am not talking about the two guys who both quite literally have clinical claustrophobia and nearly had panic attacks.  Nope, you two get a free pass, and, like I said, please come join us at our September event at the Black Finn where it should be much easier for you to handle.

But you, who walked up and asked for a map of the event location so that you can find the recruiters…[sigh]…that one really hurts, because it means that not only have you never read a single thing we’ve ever written or put out there, but it means that whomever told you about us failed to pass along crucial information as well…which means that they might not get it, either.

Or you, who complains that you can’t find a recruiter to talk with…are you kidding me?  I could have walked into any single point in that room at any given point in time between 5:01pm and 8:00pm and hit four to six recruiters just by spreading my arms out and rotating in place.

You can’t always get what you want, no!
You can’t always get what you want (tell ya baby)
You can’t always get what you want (no)
But if you try sometimes you just might find
You get what you need

So, you might want a nice little quiet event that has one on one’s available in booths with recruiters…and hey, there are job fairs out there that offer that.  Have fun at them.  But if you try our events sometime and understand what it is that you’re walking into…you just might find that you’ll get what you need – a job.

Example #2: Recruiters That Don’t Get It
Which rolls me over to you, Cranky Recruiter.  Yes, you, the one that finally emailed me the day of the event to tell me that you were coming (after weeks of me sending emails flat out begging the recruiters to let me know in advance who’d be there so that we could plan accordingly) and then got bitchy with me because you didn’t have a table dedicated for your use.  Really?  No, seriously…really?!?!

Time for some more numbers.  There were 56 individual recruiters, HR personnel and hiring managers from a whole bunch of different companies that had told us they were coming as of the day before the event.  We made plans for them.  Badges were waiting (for the most part…there were about six “oops” moments as we realized that an entire sheet of badges got left behind on a printer…again, “not event planners”, folks) for them when they got there.  We knew we had about a dozen smaller tables, hightops throughout the room, and a few private rooms to play around with, and we adapted accordingly.  Then, just like with the job seekers…it started happening.

“I am checking to see if we can still register to attend your Pink Slip Party event as recruiters tonight. I hope it’s not too late-please let me know as we’d love to be a part of this event!”

Again…what are we going to say?  “No…sorry, but even though our events are specifically designed to help people find jobs…no, you, a recruiter who most likely has jobs for job seekers that will be in attendance…no, you can’t come!”?!?!  And, so, the Job Seeker front was coming in from the West…and now the Recruiter/HR/Hiring Manager thunderstorm was coming up from the south…and the Room Capacity front was rolling in from the East…

…and there are Bob, Jeff and I, struggling to keep the Andrea Gail afloat in the midst of The Perfect Storm, and someone wants to whine that water’s coming in through their cabin window?

There are many things that I would have liked to have said, I assure you.  What I did say was “Well, response was really overwhelming, so right now I’m encouraging people to mingle around, find someone that you’d like to have a deeper conversation with, and go ahead back into one of the private rooms that we’ve set aside for just that use – they’re large, and basically going unused at this point.”

Out of those 56 badges…7 didn’t get picked up.  So that’s 49.  That’s a decent number.  We’d always said that if we could wind up with about a 5:1 ratio of Job Seekers: Recruiters, that would keep things even and balanced, and allow everyone to have a decent amount of conversations without getting completely overwhelmed.  But, now factor in that 18 “extras” that we had brought with us got used…and that’s 67.  Sixty seven.  Sixty seven people were there wearing green name badges that basically said “I’m here to hire people, come talk to me”.  And so, yep, we ran out of tables pretty quickly.  We ran out of everything pretty quickly…except job seekers, that is.  There were plenty of those to go around, and they were all there looking to talk with you…whether you were at a table, in one of the private rooms, sitting at the bar, or standing on your head by the bathroom – they came to find jobs.  And as Brandy pointed out, you’re the Gatekeeper.  They’re going to find you.  You might as well be a sorority girl in a horror movie and the job seeker a hockey-mask wearin’, machete wielding psycho.  It doesn’t matter where you run or where you go, they’re going to find you.  It’s up to you what you do with them when they do.

You can’t always get what you want, no!
You can’t always get what you want (tell ya baby)
You can’t always get what you want (no)
But if you try sometimes you just might find
You get what you need

So, you might want an event that has dedicated space for you, or lets you setup a booth, or lets you have a quieter, more professional environment…and you can get that by paying for ads in newspapers or on Monster and inviting people into your office.  However, if you try sometime to take advantage of what we offer you – tons of resumes from great candidates and a great social environment that keeps people loose and more “real” than you’ll find them in any other setting around…well, then you might just find that you get what you need – great candidates.

Example #3: Locations That Don’t Get It
We don’t ask for the world.  We don’t.  We ask that you open your doors to our members, and that you stick to what we agree to.  So, when we go back and forth and reach an agreement that yes, you will be honoring $3 “You Call It’s” for the duration of our event…that doesn’t mean that you suddenly invent a term called “call”, that is somehow synonymous with the term “well” or “rail” and start charging people $5 to $8 for drinks.  That’s lame.  It’s lame, and it virtually guarantees that we won’t be using you for a future event of any sort.  I mean, maybe I’m wrong.  Maybe the restaurant and bar industry has been virtually untouched in this disaster of an economy in Michigan, and so it doesn’t matter to you if you have a few hundred extra people show up on a random Thursday night.  If that’s the case, then shame on me for not seeing that.  However, I have a sneaking feeling that quite the opposite might be true, and that you’re hurting just as badly as everyone else…and so you might want to make sure you keep your word, and follow through on what you agree to do.  Particularly when you’re dealing with people that are out of work, looking for work, or just otherwise generally feeling the pinch like the rest of us…backing out on your word in a situation like this is just wrong.

We’re up front and honest with you when we’re booking the event and all along the process leading up to the event taking place…and so we sort of expect the same from you.

You can’t always get what you want, no!
You can’t always get what you want (tell ya baby)
You can’t always get what you want (no)
But if you try sometimes you just might find
You get what you need

Yes, you might want a bunch of high-rollers to walk in willing to drop hundreds of dollars each on bottle service…but if you’re up front and honest with us, and deal with our members in a decent manner and help them enjoy what is most likely an extremely rare night out…then you just might find that you’ll get what you need – loyal, returning customers that have good things to say about you, generating good word-of-mouth buzz for you.

So, that’s it for this edition.  Those are my “lessons learned” from our latest Pink Slip Party event.  I hope to see you at our casual networking events and other Pink Slip Party events in the future.

Or, in some cases…I hope I don’t.  But that only applies if you’re That Guy.