Each season a fresh burst of conventions and expos pop up throughout the business landscape. Most conferences provide continuing education break outs as well as opportunities to offer conference goers the opportunity to do a bit of multi-tasking.
So what should you actually be doing at a convention? Should you focus on networking or just try to make connections with smart people? Maybe simply take notes and try to learn a little something during the breakout sessions? Whatever you are hoping to do, you need to identify who you will embody as well as other conference goers so you don’t derail your plans.
Here are 15 typical types of conference goers you are most likely to meet or embody. Understanding them can help you figure out how to stay on track and meet your personal goals for attending the conference or seminar.
The networker is there to meet and make lasting connections with other conference goers. They typically have a lot of social media connections and can most likely be found chatting up multiple groups of people during happy hour, handing out business cards or making real-time LinkedIn connections.
If this conference goer sounds like you, just make sure you brush up on your ground game – networking mistakes are easier to make than you might think.
The sponge is there to learn as much as possible. He or she attends conferences to soak up every ounce of knowledge they can. This person has the difficult task of juggling a laptop, smart phone, and notebook, in addition to identifying which sessions to attend and which to miss.
The Innovator attends conferences in the hopes of being inspired by other conference goers and striking a creativity streak. Entrepreneurs, thinkers, and problem solvers would fall under this bucket — people who seek inspiration for their next brilliant idea or invention.
Collectors may attend the conference to learn and bring back information to their team, but they’re not going to miss out on all the swag. I mean, sometimes all you really need in life is a free drink koozie, a pen, and a squishy stress ball.
The Superfan is very active when it comes to conference-related social media activity. This person never forgets to include the keynote speaker’s Twitter handle in hopes that they will retweet or reply. And if there’s a chance to meet the speaker at the conference the Superfan is first in line.
The Escape Artist
Escape Artists are really looking for a Get Out of Work Free card without using vacation time. Sure, they might learn a thing or two and meet a few interesting conference goers, so they can report back, but playing hooky is their main mission. Escape Artists benefit with preliminary planning so they can get the break from their day-to-day job while still bringing back a ton of value for the team.
The Job Seeker
Job seekers tend to have different goals when attending a conference, depending on which stage of the job hunt they find themselves. A job seeker might attend an event to learn about companies, opportunities, and people they’d like to work with.
Job seekers are also likely on the lookout for opportunities to give potential employers an elevator pitch in person, along with a resume or portfolio. If this is you, come prepared with your pitch.
The difference between a Deal-Maker and a Networker is that a Deal-Maker attends a conference focused on creating business partnerships. Partnerships could include co-marketing or co-branding opportunities, sponsorships, or speaking opportunities. If this is you, take a tip from the Networker’s play book and make some lasting relationships first and leave the business for after the conference.
The Bloggers role at a conference is specifically to get fodder to produce some form of content for their blog. They can often be found listening intently to keynotes and breakout sessions, while writing down an outline or quotes on a laptop.
The Teacher is the person sent to the conference to return with the best takeaways and relay that knowledge to teammates. The Teacher takes excellent notes and if you have a company wiki, they will most likely create a page on there with the lessons and best practices from the conference. Maybe even formally present upon return.
The Frugal Tourist
One of the great benefits of attending an out-of-state conference is that your company is picking up the tab for your flights and hotel room. The Frugal Tourist understands this strategy all too well and will optimize their trip to squeeze in a bit of sightseeing. Perks such as sightseeing shouldn’t be your sole mission for attending a conference, but if you can tack on a vacation to the end of a highly productive work week, why not. Just make sure you bring back a ton of valuable information for your team before you start kicking back.
The Thought Leader
The Thought Leader’s main mission is to stay successful and most often are actually the conference speakers. They’re experts on a given topic, and are there to talk to the crowd about it. Thought Leaders have probably written books and countless blog articles on the same topic, have high numbers of followers on social media, and are high energy.
Then there are conference goers who attend events to test the competitive landscape. The Spy comes ready to check out the competition. They compile and analyze this information and turn it into a plan of action. Attending a conference as a spy is actually a popular sales tactic; it can offer your team some valuable sound bites that can help close future deals.
Similar to the deal-maker, the Salesperson is there to close deals and sell their products or services. However, the Salesperson is usually only interested in selling their company’s core products and services and not building strategic partnerships. This interaction could happen during the conference or after the conference has ended, giving the prospect time to consider the deal.
The Partier is the person who takes advantage of every social aspect, entertainment, and free drinks available. We all have a little of the Partier in us and should take advantage of trips to the snack table or for a beverage during otherwise awkward or uncomfortable silences to regroup. But don’t miss out on embodying one of the other conference goer personas so your conference experience is both fun and productive.
Preplanning your approach will help you make the best of your limited time and leave you with a positive and enriching experience.