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What would you have done?

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Mar 12, 2009 2:41 am

So last Thursday, I host a seminar with an affinity group. 50/50 split on cost. They bring in members, I introduce new people to the group. It’s a private membership group & I hosted the gig on my country club membership. 

  The group brings in 15-20 people who are already members of the group and a few interested in joining. I bring in 5-6 clients and prospects, invite them to bring in referrals, and had some cold call attendees show up too. All in - 42 people in the room.   Networking time runs for about a half hour before seminar begins. Food/bar - you know the drill. Just before the presentation is to start - in walks a broker I worked with who left the firm I am with to go to a small shop and this smart ass walks in with another colleague of theirs. They weren't on the guest list, etc. for the affinity group and I sure didn't invite 'em.   They start yakking with people while I'm busy getting the last details of set up attended to. I think to confront them & invite them to leave or speak to the affinity group membership peson, but there is no time to address it because we're about to roll.   So I'm do I tackle the snake in the room. They're not invited, not a member of the group or the country club, not paying for this thing - in other words, they did no work, spent no ching and came in looking to leach off a room of qualified, interested prospects.     So - I'm introduced by the event coordinator and step up. I thank the affinity group and acknowledge a few of their board members. Then, I thank the wait staff of the club. Then, I highlighted those in the room who are clients (but not identifying them as clients) and let people know what they do (what business they own, etc) and suggested they speak to them when they have a chance.   Then, I turn to face the interloper &  introduced them as a former colleague and current competition from another firm.    It was like turning a light on c***roaches.  One of them tried to hijack part of the presentation, but I invited them to bring it up after the presentation in a 1:1 conversation which shut that down.   They tried to "work the room" a bit after the presentation, but I don't think they got anything.     So - what would you have done?        
Mar 12, 2009 2:01 pm

Tough situation.  I think you handled it alright.  Using humor is probably the best mechanism in that case.  “Hey guys, wasn’t expecting you here.  I should introduce you to some of my clients.  Hey everyone, this is so-and-so from XYZ Financial.  They used to work with me, and they are just here to get a few pointers…”

But I would NOT confront them in an adversarial way.  That can only make you look bad.   Humor, or putting them on the spot to explain what they are doing there, can take the spotlight off you and put it on them.
Mar 12, 2009 3:04 pm
Then, I turn to face the interloper &  introduced them as a former colleague and current competition from another firm.....  and as much as I appreciate your desire to pick up some tips, this seminar is for qualified investors only.  Buh bye.       
Mar 12, 2009 6:59 pm

What nerve to show up at someone elses dinner!

Mar 12, 2009 7:58 pm

Great story, what firm did they move to? Do they have standards of conduct there?

Mar 12, 2009 8:51 pm

I would have introduced them to the room and said they work use to work with Bernie Madoff, but most recently with Stanford Financial.

Mar 13, 2009 5:17 am

And this is Jim and Bob from FU Financial.  They are here to get a free meal and benefit from my hard work.  Lets give them a hand.

Mar 13, 2009 5:52 am

Dude - that is so messed up I don’t even know what I would have done… but I think what you did was classy.

Mar 13, 2009 9:13 pm

SWAT team.  Call 911 and tell them the guys have guns.  That should put an interesting twist on your event.