Don’t dismiss people. It doesn’t pay.
The worst way you can treat someone you’ve just met is to dismiss them. I go to a few startup and entrepreneur meetups here in Sydney, maybe one a month if I can get out to them.
I used to go to more, but life gets in the way, and life gets busy, and if it’s between eating a slice of Pizza at Fishburners or actually having time to go to the gym, I know which one I’ll choose.
The one thing I hate at these events is how dismissive people can be.
It’s never the organizers, not here in Sydney anyway. They’re incredible people who are doing an amazing job at putting together opportunities for people to meet, learn and do.
It’s the young founders, the young would-be entrepreneurs. They’re dismissive of anyone who can’t give them the opportunities they want. They’re dismissive of anyone whose value they can’t put a number on.
They’re young, in their early 20’s, and they’re ambitious. They’re out there trying to “put a dent in the universe” and they’re only looking for people who can help them do that. They want to meet VCs, founders of high growth startups and managers at established tech companies. In that order. And that’s it.
Have you ever tried having a conversation with a guy who keeps looking around the room for someone more important he can talk to? It’s not a whole lot of fun.
It feels like you’re just being completely dismissed, like what you do isn’t valid and it isn’t important. I mean, how else are we supposed to feel, if people can decide whether or not we’re worth knowing based on our job description?
I was at an event a months ago, and I met a young guy trying to build an iPhone app. He walked up and we got to talking, and he asked what I did. I told him I was a writer, and before I could say anything else, he was angling for an exit and looking for someone else to talk to.
It was almost funny. Almost.
I got a message from him on Twitter a few days after, explaining that he’d met me at that event, didn’t realise I wrote a blog that he loved, and saying he wanted my advice.
Normally, I’m happy to help out almost anyone who gets in touch.
After all, that’s my passion, helping people.
But here was this guy who’d worked the room at that meetup like a pro, dismissed me without getting to know me, and now expected me to help him out. And it wasn’t just me he’d dismissed — he’d ignored every woman in the room, talked over people, interrupted a bunch of conversations, and just been an ass.
When you just dismiss people out of hand, when you don’t consider them as people, sooner or later you’re going to miss out on some incredible opportunities. I really believe that. People are hard to pigeon hole and pick out, and you can’t always see what value people can add to your life.