The following has happened to me several times.
I show up some place I’m iinvited and some one asks, usually politely, “Why are You Here?” or some variation of that phrase, like “What brought you here?” “What’s your interest in this topic?”
It happened to me today. This is the dialogue I had in my mind and am now sharing with you.
Why are you here?
Uh, because I got an invitation. You invited me.
Uh, because I’m interested in the topic.
Uh, because I’m on the mailing list.
Uh, because I’m an alum and we get invited to these sorts of discussions/events/happenings.
And further more, do I look like I don’t belong here?
Do you think I misinterpreted the topic of today’s talk?
I know I’m not wearing corporate gear but there was no dress code and so I didn’t wear a suit.
(In the land of suits, folks don’t like non-suits showing up or at least they have to test to make sure you’re s’posed to be where you are. Most of the time I feel that I’m s’posed to be wherever I land.)
Note to planners, If you want your audience to fit a narrow scope – don’t invite b r o a d l y.
If the event is really only for financial planners or executive directors or folks who “belong” on the 26th floor, target your list to make sure that’s what you get.
Why was I there? Take your pick:
I’m interested in the topic – read a book and a few articles about the topic.
I’m here because my interests are wide.
I’m here because I’ve learned that learning in and of itself is its own reward and will also connect to something else in my life, often in ways I haven’t yet fathomed.
I have no agenda to advance, no product to push, no service to shop.
I’m not prowling for gigs (at least not in this crowd).
Oh, yeah, and I wanted to see the view from the 26th floor.
This is very funny! Why is anyone anywhere? As you know, I am a restaurateur and I speak to almost every person who comes into my restaurant every day. Okay, slight exaggeration, but not too far from the truth. I meet and greet and accept their money. One of my favorite questions to new faces is “Why are you here?” or some variation, like “What brought you here, today?” as in why now and never before or who told you to come or how did you hear about us? I understand that it can sound like a challenge, after all most people are hungry at least three times a day so what’s the big deal? But you know, I am a pretty friendly guy and I like almost everyone, so I love to ask. The answers are usually the most important thing, but for me, asking the question is important because I want to know and making that connection, the one that says, “I see you, you’re new here, welcome to my house” is sometimes the most important thing of all. Some people love it. Some people wish I had never asked. I can’t always tell who is who.
Loved this post. No idea where you were but hope at least the view was nice. What is it with people needing to exclude to feel like they belong?
Your “why are you here today” is vastly different from the “why are you here” that I was asked. Tone of voice, the facial expression that accompanied it gave additional meeting.
Continue in your friendly way. I was talking about a whole ‘nother thing.