I was really excited when a local community organization contacted me late last month to speak at their conference. It wasn’t something I was actively looking to do just yet but the opportunity seemed too good to pass up. They found me online (Google and Facebook) and then contacted me for a phone interview.
It went really well and the next step was setting up a meeting with the director. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect at this meeting so I spoke to my coach and reached out to other speakers for advice on how to prepare.
Armed with a list of questions and possible ideas, the meeting went very well. My topic agreed upon and details worked out, I left excited about the prospect of leading my first hour long, interactive conference workshop.
There was no fee but I would have greater exposure to a demographic I hadn’t really been able to reach. I even splurged a bit for marketing materials. I bought new swag and replenished brochures and printed the handouts I would be using for the workshop. I even attended a workshop about leading great workshops to include the latest best practices into my presentation. I clearly should have gotten a written contract first though – lesson learned.
From there, it all started to fall apart. It was the beginning of the end but I wasn’t aware of that just yet. I got a call and was told they would be cutting my speaking time in half. I wasn’t too happy about it but it still seemed like a good opportunity and there was now a little less pressure with a smaller time slot.
Then I got a call to see if I could change my topic (I had already done all of the research and had the outline set) because another speaker wanted to talk about something similar. I said no, it was almost finished. In my mind, I was selected first so why would someone that agreed to come on board after me get to choose a topic that was already being covered. I was told they’d get back to me later that day.
I didn’t hear back so I continued to work on and prep for the workshop as it was fast approaching and I was in the middle of midterms. No news is good news, right? Boy was I wrong!
Three days before the conference, I had a bad feeling and wanted to check in. Lo and behold there is an email in my inbox from the previous week from the organization explaining that they cancelled my workshop but would like to stay in touch for future events.
I was beyond upset. After the time and money spent preparing for this opportunity, it was taken away by an email. I feel it at least warranted a phone call. I’m also a bit insulted that they think I’d consider working with them again after this. I know it’s not personal but I do feel it wasn’t handled very professionally either.
Would you consider working with them again? Why or why not?
Let me know in the contents!
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They didn’t / don’t know you personally, so there is no need to take it as a personal rejection of you or even all your accomplishments (past) and present, and your value to your community. They spoke to you once or twice. This is a prime example of the disloyal world we live in, and in business, it is usually worse compared to among individuals. I’ve been through a more personal “betrayal” if you want to call it that, this past year. And what has helped me to some degree is taking partial blame for the falling out between friends. I allowed them to show up in my life a certain way for three years, and then when I finally had had enough and called them on it, everything went South. Their reaction was wrong, and the way they had treated me was wrong, but I allowed it and they got used to it – I was partly to blame. As you yourself said, you’ve learned lessons from this – get a contract. Also, go more on the offensive. Don’t think they’re doing you a favor; rather, see the value in who you are and what you do more, and consider that you’re doing them a favor by speaking at their event, whoever comes along next with such an opportunity. Make them feel that your time is valuable, and you want a solid guarantee from them. If they don’t like that, don’t take it. Hope something here helps, Sami! This situation does NOT determine your value to your community, and does not change the good person you are. They were wrong here (morally and ethically), but in business, it goes like that. So we also need to put our business caps on in these situations and make some demands ourselves. All my best, Scott
Thank you for your insights Scott. I will definitely keep that in mind for the next opportunity.
I think for me, business is all about building relationships so I tend to forget that not all businesses operate that way. They did what they had to do and I understand it was not personal but it also tells me they’re not the type of businesses I want to work with. Courtesy is always appreciated.