It’s Embarrassing Stories Monday, where I share YOUR embarrassing stories.
Today’s embarrassing story is by Ryan Olexson. She’s a mom and wife to Ryan (yes, they have the same name) and she blogs at That Girl Ryan. She’s also been known to do some stand-up comedy. So check her out!
Shortly after graduating college I landed a job working in sales for a digital media agency. My role was to sell marketing to small-sized business. I quickly figured out the only way to fill my pipeline every month with new leads was to attend networking events. I went to about as many types of networking events as you could dream up.
About seven months into the job I found myself one Tuesday morning arriving at yet another networking event; it was located in the basement of a church.
I took a seat at a table and pulled out all of my business cards. I turned to my right to engage the woman next to me in some small talk about the weather. She gave me a glare and turned her seat around. I then looked to my right to the man sitting next to me; he stared intently at the ground as his hand shook holding a cigarette. He reeked of alcohol and was pale white; clearly someone had been partying on a Monday, how unprofessional. Shrugging off the unfriendliness of my table neighbors, I decided to scan the room for a friendly face. That’s when I noticed that everyone dressed like they had just rolled out of bed. One man’s hair was so messy he made Flock of Seagulls look worthy of a Pinterest board.
How are any of these people going to get business with such sloppy manners? This whole crowd was a bit off.
As I got up to move seats, a woman appeared in the front of the room and motioned for everyone to sit down.
“Hello everyone, be thankful you made it here today. To start off the meeting, I’d like everyone to grab hands and bow their heads for the opening prayer…God help me to accept the things I cannot control…”
At this point I was freaked out, I hadn’t been to a religious networking event before nor did I know that they even existed. Was this like, Networking with God? I mean I was desperate but it never crossed my mind to start praying the rosary for sales leads. Here I am holding hands with potential clients, praying…none of this had been covered in my sales training.
Before I could assess what had just happened the man next to me stood up, “Hello, I’d like to begin the sharing today…”
Now we have to share? What the hell am I going to share with everyone? I decided I should probably leave; this whole thing was getting a little too weird for me. I began collecting my things as the man continued talking.
“…My name is Mark and I am an alcoholic. It’s been 3 weeks since my last drink.”
I stopped packing up my stuff. Holy Mother of God, I was at an AA meeting. How did I end up at an AA meeting?
For a moment, I thought my stomach had fallen into my ass. The words to describe my embarrassment do not yet exist. I wanted so badly to slip out the back door but I couldn’t move from my chair. I was stuck, there was no way out, I was going to have to sit through this entire meeting. And that is exactly what I did…
I clapped when Bill got his 60 day sobriety chip.
I cried when Nan told her rock bottom story.
I even held Cindy’s hand when she talked about the time she passed out naked in the street.
Eventually it was my turn to share. Part of me thought I should just make up something and go along with this whole thing, but the stories shared were so touching I decided to be honest. I nervously stood up and said,
“My name is Ryan and I work for a media company. I am not an alcoholic but I came here today to network. Would anyone like to schedule a meeting about some digital marketing opportunities?”
The room erupted with laughter; this clearly wasn’t the first time someone had made this mix-up. The AA attendees were so impressed that I stayed for the whole meeting that they showered me with new prospects.
That one AA meeting filled my pipeline for months and landed me some hefty commissions. It was an embarrassing situation to say the least but it paid off in the end.
Read more of Ryan’s hilarious posts at That Girl Ryan.
Have you ever sat through a meeting that clearly wasn’t the meeting you thought it was?
Would you like to share your own embarrassing story on Embarrassing Stories Monday? Click HERE to submit it.