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Warning to Golden Colorado Business Professionals About the “Business Strategy and Networking in Colorado” meetup group.

There is a meetup.com group in Golden called “Business Strategy and Networking in Colorado”, which apparently is somehow related to another company called “I Take The Lead”.

Well, here’s what happened…they kicked me out of their networking group simply because I posted the following comment to their website’s message board:

“Hey, I’m new to this group and might come to an event sometime…but… I was RSVP’d by the Organizers as a YES to a paid meetup without them conferring with me first. That makes me feel a bit odd about this group. Would it be ok if you didn’t RSVP for us? Maybe I’ll try an event another time, but I’ll RSVP on my own once I decide. OK?”

Really?? They kicked me out for that? They’ve never met me. They don’t know who I am, or what I have to contribute. I’ve never yet attended this particular meetup group. But apparently since they didn’t like a comment I made on their website message board questioning their RSVPing me without asking me first or even making me aware of it, they just kick someone out of the group??

I’m angry, yes, but justified. At this point I’m a business professional attempting to make more transparent the dealings of this networking group. As an Organizer for other meetup groups including a B2B networking group, and a business professional on the leadership team of another meetup group with over 400 members, I know a little bit about how meetup works, and ethics by which business networking groups should operate.

Yet my opinion is that I consider the tactics of this “Business Strategy and Networking in Colorado” group to be aggressive, gimmicky, and perhaps even questionable from an ethical standpoint.

Firstly, they never should have RSVP’d me or the other 85 members of the group to a meetup without our consent, especially since it is a paid event at $40.

Next, I notice that they RSVP’d EVERYONE in the group as a YES for the event, making it look like 100% attendance, that all 86 members were planning on and willing to fork up the $40 and planned on going to this event (they wish!). In fact it was confirmed to me via an email that I received from another member that the organizer of the group had ‘auto-RSVP’d’ a Yes for them also. I can only assume that this group was trying to demonstrate credibility for this event by showing lots of member participation.

Then, once I made a simple and honest comment that I didn’t appreciate the fact that the organizer RSVP’d me without asking, they should have simply respected my position and ‘un-RSVP’d’ me…end of story.

But NO…not end of storythey eject me from the group without ever dialoguing with me at all, as if they were trying to penalize me or something for speaking up about them RSVPing for me. Did I really deserve the ‘wrist slap’? Ouch!

Well, as it turns out I’m really glad that they booted me out of their group sooner rather than later…they saved me a lot of time and energy that I might have otherwise invested in their group had I not really understood what they are about. Thanks, organizers, for showing me your true colors and what your networking group is really about…making money.

Here’s their meetup.com website:

Notice they’ve had 68 meetup gatherings, but only 11 reviewswhy such a very low number of reviews after so many meetups? My guess would be that many people likely gave them bad reviews, so they probably deleted the reviews (and maybe even the members) to maintain their reputation by way of censorship. Based on the way they treated me they likely deleted the reviews and also probably removed the reviewers from the group. No more squeaky wheels.

I’m not sure which Organizer or Administrator for this group is responsible for such odd behavior, but here’s the list of Leadership for that group: (Edit 2/25/11)

James Klingensmith C.Ht. (Assistant Organizer) has taken full responsibility and offered an apology (Editor’s note, 2/25/11).

There seems to be a related group with a lot of the same leadership called “True Business to Business Networking” that seems to be operating similarly since I was also kicked out from their group under similar circumstances:

James Klingensmith C.Ht. (Assistant Organizer) has taken full responsibility and offered an apology (Editor’s note, 2/25/11).

Since I can no longer access either of these groups as a ‘member’ to comment about my angst of how they operate, I am obliged to blog about it here in hopes that it serves to make public the way they operate, and maybe to prevent some decent business professional out there from getting entangled with these guys, and possibly even forking up $40 for one of their events. There are much better places to put your money.

I don’t think running a meetup group in this manner or treating members like this was how the creators of meetup.com intended for group Organizers to deal with their members, but it is up to the ethics of those running a particular group as to how they manage it and use the tools at hand…so if the organizer of a meetup group wants to ‘auto-RSVP’ people to paid events, or ban people without regard, they can…but that doesn’t make it right.

I’ll let you draw your own conclusions about whether you want to do business with these people, or to try a different business networking group rather than the “Business Strategy and Networking in Colorado” group.

Meetup.com is a great resource, and there are plenty of good B2B networking groups out there, you just may want to be a little discerning and do your due diligence before joining.

If you have any experiences with either of these meetup groups I’d like to hear from you in the comments section below (whether your experiences were similar or not, and whether you agree with my assesment or not).

If you are one of the organizers from one of the groups I mentioned and you dare to leave a comment, don’t forget…on this site I have cencorship power 🙂