My first job right out of college was as an event manager, producing high-end technology expositions at military and government installations worldwide. About six months into my position, I was assigned to work with FBI contacts on a premier show within the walls of the FBI's J. Edgar Hoover Building. I couldn't have been more excited or nervous.
My company at the time unfortunately believed in quantity over quality, and judged our shows by the number of attendees who showed up to meet with exhibitors. This meant that not only was I the event manager, I also was the person grabbing people away from water coolers and janitor closets just to make them sign up at the door. I was quite the stickler for this, and had a reputation in my company for being aggressive in getting attendees to show up and sign in at the table outside my expos. I found out quickly that this wasn't always a good thing.
The day of my show I had incredible turnout. I was kicking butt and taking names, literally taking names outside the door. All of a sudden I had a rush of people, and had to get out from behind my table to do some crowd control. I was grabbing arms and ushering attendees over to the registration table when I saw the next group of people walking toward the expo room fast and furious.
"Oh no, they will not get past me!" I thought, so I stepped in front of the group. Two security guards whom I had failed to notice up until this point grabbed me and pulled me out of the way. The gentleman whom they were flanking managed to chuckle at me and kept walking.
"Wait! He needs to sign in!" I said. "Ma'am," one of the guards said, "the director of the FBI can go wherever he wants." I had no idea that I had just been dismissed and laughed at by Robert Mueller, the director of the FBI! After that, I managed to hide for the rest of that event, and, funny enough, I was never invited back to the FBI after that expo. However, you bet I did capture the director's name, along with his security detail, on the sign-in sheet.
Carrie Abernathy, CMP, CEM Director of Education, Training, and Events, Practice Greenhealth.