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Dondi Scumaci Blog

Who is at Your Table?

I attended a professional women’s conference recently as the keynote speaker and witnessed the most epic networking fail.

As the conference opened and the banquet room began to fill with hundreds of women, I found an open chair at a table near the back of the room. I wanted to get a feel for the group and meet some of the participants before speaking. Let me just say…I picked the worst table ever.

Seven women gathered there, all from the same organization. They did nothing to welcome me. I felt like an intruder, but told myself these woman are simply “networking challenged.” I was still waiting for the ice to break, when one of them leaned in to critique the appearance of someone at the next table. It was a cruel remark. Another rolled her eyes as she made fun of someone who had tried to join their group at the networking reception the evening before.

I excused myself after providing a little feedback of my own:

“This is a networking event. An opportunity to meet people and connect in meaningful ways. You (my dears) are not a panel of judges on a reality show. ¬†You are missing the whole point, but you are doing a marvelous job of reinforcing the catty, negative stereotypes about women in the workplace. Excuse me, I don’t belong at this table.”

Here’s to women everywhere who reach out, connect and add value. These are the women – the people I will surround myself with. They leave me better. They build my confidence and they inspire me. They pull me in and include me. They look for and celebrate my value. They help me open and develop my unique gifts.

These are the women I want at my table.



14 Responses to “Who is at Your Table?”

  1. Lori Richardson Says:

    Thanks for this post and for bringing up the point of events – to reach out and meet others. I have seen the same issues with predominantly male networking events (I’m in technology so often am one of few women in a room) and also at predominantly women attending an event.I think it stems from insecurity and being uncomfortable meeting people when you can sit and talk with those you know. Does not make it right, and I agree – next time – everyone – go out of your way to open the circle, include others who walk up, and make them feel more comfortable. I think we should create a book of “what not to do” based on our experiences! I have stories!

  2. Linda Ryan Says:

    You go girlfriend! Such an articulate, professional description of, what sounds like a group of bit*hy women. So cool what you said to them! I imagine it must have felt good and hopefully opened their eyes (and closed their mouths) to what networking is and is not.

  3. Carly Alyssa Thorne Says:

    Absolutely LOVE this Post and sooo true… what a waste of an event and energy… and You are such an amazing and awesome woman.

  4. Jevon Bolden Says:

    All I can say is wow. How unfortunate that those women missed an opportunity to engage with other brilliant and unique women. Who knows what encouragement, advice, or even open door they could have experienced through the women they were eyeballing. I truly believe that as they listened to your talk they were inspired to greater things. I am glad I came across your post today. This keeps Hebrews 13:2 and Matthew 25:40 in the front of my mind. People are far too valuable to take for granted.

  5. Jevon Bolden Says:

    I forgot to say how they must have felt terrible when they saw who you were. LOL!

  6. Dondi Says:

    It was a PRICELESS moment. Gave them something to talk about.

  7. Dondi Says:

    Well said Jevon. Our world (and opportunity) shrinks when we think small. People are treasures.

  8. Dondi Says:

    Thank you Carly!

  9. Dondi Says:

    It felt wonderful! Hopefully it made a difference. I remember many years ago someone giving me some very real feedback in a group setting. I deserved it too. It stung, but I thanked them for it. Completely altered my perception and my behavior. Forever.

  10. Dondi Says:

    Thank you Lori for your comments. It does take some courage to step up and step out. That sounds like a great book idea by the way!

  11. Amy L. Potts Says:


    I wish I could say that I have never been in the shoes of the women at that table. I was in a similar situation years ago only to learn later that one of the women, whom I completely ignored, was actually interested in having me speak at their women’s conference. Needless to say, I didn’t get that invitation. Instead, I learned via a friend about the opportunity that I missed out on because of my snobbish and embarrassing behavior. I have learned to be careful in these situations.

    Today I’m more mindful of how I would want to be represented, and it has to start with me.

    Thanks for your post!

  12. Tanya Lacy Says:

    Wonderful post. Thank-you for sharing this Carly. Thank-you for sharing your experience Dondi. Something that happens too often at events and in life. People’s own fear and limitation keeping them small has SO much to answer for! Big thinkers make a stand and bring it to the table :) Thank-you Dondi!

  13. Dondi Says:

    Tanya, So true. Fear is the great “minimizer.” Appreciate your comments!

  14. Dondi Says:

    Your authenticity always inspires me. Thank you for being so real with us.

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