Last night, women gathered in the beautiful Maria’s Bridal Couture boutique for an evening of introductions, of networking, of kind interaction. Carol Kirkland of AVE Office Supplies spoke about the importance of relationships in business.

There was wine and shrimp and homemade mini-muffins with olive and feta cheese. Samira made three desserts by hand. And a feeling of pervasive warmth and integrity permeated the night.

Except for one woman.

She came late, and in the middle of Carol’s speech, said loudly, “Sorry I’m late.” As if anyone knew her. I didn’t even, and I was the host of the night, but then I’d invited everyone via email with the hope of bringing together good people who do good work.

We exchanged a chuckle at one point of the night, she in her heavy irreverent smoker’s voice, and I thought I had expanded my circle. Until I learned from two of my clients present in the night that she had slinked up to them and said, “I know you’re working with Meredith, but if you want another perspective, give me a call.”

They told me, I cornered her and frankly, I don’t know if it was that she didn’t even get my name right, or that in the generosity of my invitation she viewed an opportunity to try to steal business.

But I operate with integrity and from a place of goodness and so I know that my hard work stands for itself and the people I trust are worth trusting. I called her out, she apologized to all, and slinked out the door into the dark of the night.

And then she sent me an email, calling me insecure and tacky and pointing out that it was a networking event, wasn’t it?

I asked kindly to be deleted from her contact list. And I wondered where some people learn their definitions.

Yes, it was a networking night. Carol spoke beautifully about the power of a handwritten note and the kindness in a gesture like a birthday card unexpected or a bag of bagels before the meeting.

I was taught by mentors, my parents and virtually everyone I know that networking is an opportunity to introduce yourself and show what you stand for. That in-your-face tactics never get you far and your integrity and work ethic and the actual work you do say more than anything else.

Yep, it was a networking night and a beautiful one at that. But the bad energy seeped in through the glass doors. I’m sending it back to the universe and residing only in goodness.

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