Inviting very casual acquaintance as a guest to professional event...
April 4, 2013 6:01 PM   Subscribe

...that could be useful (for him). Mistake? I’m moving across the country in a month. I want to do what I can to help someone move toward achieving a dream before I leave. Is my idea reasonable or are there better options to consider?

An organization in my community invited me to basically a year-in-review/volunteer appreciation event with hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar. I was invited because I currently volunteer for them. I planned to attend alone but I was looking at the RSVP card, which allowed for up to three guests, and had a different idea.

This guy and I have been involved in the same organization but I didn’t really know him until I had a chance recently to talk to him. I discovered he is very passionate about a cause that I am not as knowledgeable about specifically but that is more generally related to my primary interests. He has a very detailed idea about an organization he would like to create. At this point, he is in the very beginning stages and said he would definitely let me know as he moves further along. He said he doesn’t know much about the logistical details of realizing this idea. I don’t either yet, but it is directly related to my career path, which is why he told me about his idea in the first place.

I want to offer something though before I move in a month because I really believe in him. I’ve already recommended some reading materials and some local organizations but I want to do something more while I’m still here, because it’s honestly not really likely we’ll stay in touch. I thought the best thing I could do, would be to give him some options of people to turn to, at least to expand his network, in case they could be useful. I have someone specifically in mind that will be at this event that I could introduce him to. There might be others as well. Although I’m not sure he is prioritizing his idea currently, I know that it is very important to him. I don’t want to push him before he is ready but I thought actually meeting people instead of just passing along information might make his idea seem more feasible.

Would it be weird to invite him or should I go for it? Do you have any alternative ideas for how I could help him?

If you think I should invite him, how should I present it? I feel like it could be perceived as asking him out. How would I avoid having it come across this way? I’m not going to be running into him between now and then, so I would have to contact him specifically about this. It’s not like it’s just going to casually come up.
posted by themoonfromthesea to Human Relations (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I don't see why this would be weird. I'd just call him up (or email him or whatever) and just say, "Hey, I have an invite to this event put on by X organization, and I thought it would be a really great chance for you to meet people who are [whatever], would you like to come as my guest?" If applicable, you could also add that you're inviting another person or two.

Just present it as an opportunity for him; whether he chooses to go or not, I'm sure he'd appreciate the thought.
posted by emumimic at 6:09 PM on April 4, 2013 [2 favorites]

Not weird. Sounds like a networking thing. Perhaps if you say you're allowed to bring a couple of guests it will make it more clear it's not a date (you could even consider inviting a third person, if you really feel uncomfortable)...
posted by three_red_balloons at 6:15 PM on April 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

Agreed that this is not weird, and actually really thoughtful. Frame it as a professional networking opportunity (emunimic's script is great).

Tangentially, this may make it easier/less awkward to stay in touch, which, if he's pursuing an interest related to our field, might be a good thing.
posted by jeoc at 7:05 PM on April 4, 2013

What you're doing is called "mentoring." It's one of the best things people can do for one another.

I'd forward him the announcement about the event with a brief note saying: "I have an extra ticket. Is this something you'd be interested in?" That puts the emphasis on the opportunity and not on you. It also gives him room to decline or not feel condescended to, since you're not presenting it as a superawesomethingthatyouhavetodooryourdreamswilldie!!!1!!1!, but instead as an opportunity that he may or may not want to pick up on.
posted by R. Schlock at 9:49 PM on April 4, 2013

"I've been thinking of people that you should meet who could help you with your goal of XYZ, and some of them will be at the Annual Volunteer Event. I'm allowed to bring up to three guests with my invite -- would you like to join me and do some networking?"

It tells him why you're inviting him, and points out in several ways that it is not a date.
posted by jacquilynne at 6:49 AM on April 5, 2013

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