I was running around in the city for most of today, meeting with clients, having strategy sessions, and enjoying spring finally emerging from its prison. Although it hit a high of 60 degrees it was a below 40 in the morning, so I was wore my herringbone overcoat and grabbed my shoulder bag before heading out.
I arrived at the Ainsworth East a little after the announced start time for the event, spoke with the hostess and was directed to the back room. Already their were people congregating around two men checking the guests in. I gave my name and was directed to a table with color coded name tags. As I waited for a spot to open up at the table so I could squeeze in, I looked around the room. It was crowded. There was very little room to move. It reminded me of the clubs I use to frequent on a Friday night at college; and was just as loud.
I got to the table and saw name tags in blue, red, orange, yellow, and purple. I started to grab the tag in front of me but then saw a banner next to the table explaining how to use them. Each color represented the niche or business you were in. After getting my name tag, I looked around for a place to store my bag and coat. There were none. I had to carry my crap around with me all night while networking.
The first guy I spoke with was a (big surprise) financial analyst. As soon as he sized me up and decided he couldn’t sell me, his eyes started to dart around to find more prey. This pattern was repeated over and over with most people who were there.
One guy I kept running into as I moved through the bar kept running away from me. That was weird. I approached him early on and introduced myself. He immediately excused himself. Throughout the evening when I would approach a group of people he was a part of he bugged out. When he approached a group I was a part of and saw me he quickly retreated. Bob, man, I don’t know what I did to you, but I’m sorry.
The idea of color coded name tags was supposed to make it easier to find people in the industry you wanted to meet, but worked to the detriment of making valuable connections. Pretty soon, people with the same color name tags started to congregate together and talk shop. There were groups of blue tag people, red tag people, and yellow tag people. But nowhere was there a group of people whose name tags created a rainbow. After talking with some people and making some connections, I headed for the door and left. When the cool air hit my face I was thankful.
Overall, I found the event hot, cramped, crowded, loud, and high pressure. I was so drained afterwards, I needed to walk to the park, sit down and listen to my music to unwind and come back to life.