For most of us, conferences are the closest we’ll ever come to going back to high school. You’ve got a bunch of people walking around with backpacks and laptop cases trying to figure out who’s who, what’s what, and where to go next. The only thing missing is the couple making out at their locker like a meteor is about to hit the earth.
I go to conferences for the people, not the material. If I learn something, great. But I always try to come away with new contacts and friendships. It’s the reason I encourage folks to go to at least one conference a year; it’s a great investment in yourself.
There’s one other thing I always come away from a conference with: knowing who I DON’T want to be at a conference…
1. The Sweaty Guy – He’s frantically walking around like he’s about to miss his connecting flight, which makes no sense because the next session doesn’t start for another 15 minutes. And his forehead isn’t just shiny from the perspiration, he’s got sweat droplets racing down the side of his face like Kevin Youkilis during a day game in August. Maybe he wouldn’t be so winded if he wasn’t trying to break the world record for heaviest backpack ever carried. What does he have in there, a pallet of mountain dew?
His shirt was a solid color when he put it on this morning, but it’s soaked with so much sweat in the pit region that it looks like he’s wearing a Hypercolor shirt while being hugged by an invisible man.
2. Overdressed Guy – Why are you wearing a business suit and tie, Overdressed Guy? None of the speakers are dressed like this…heck, half of them are wearing vintage t-shirts and Pumas. Are you meeting a prospective employer here or do you just feel out of your element without a necktie and shiny shoes?
Wait, I get it. You’re following the old, “dress for the conference you want to attend, not the conference you are attending” maxim, right? Yeah…that’s too bad.
3. Swag Guy – this guy is broke because he just emptied his bank account in the conference store. Not only is he wearing a conference hoodie over a conference t-shirt, but he’s got a second t-shirt tied around his waste and 7 books in each hand.
If the conference store sold life insurance policies, he would have bought three.
4. “That Guy’s Hair” Guy – There’s always one guy (or girl) at a conference. If someone walks up to you and says, “Did you see that’s guy’s hair?” and you know EXACTLY who they are talking about, that’s the That Guy’s Hair Guy.
5. Argue with your Girlfriend on the Phone Guy – listen up, buddy, and listen good. Acceptable places to argue with your girlfriend at a conference: outside the venue in an uncrowded area, in your car in the parking lot, & back at your hotel. That’s it, that’s the list.
Also, here’s a list of acceptable places to use that whiny voice I just heard: nowhere.
6. Shirt Stain Guy – you spilled coffee on yourself on the way to the venue this morning and now you’re screwed. You’ve got 8 hours to try and creatively hide that blotch of brown on your white t-shirt, or you can just embrace it and let the world mock you.
You might want to find Swag Guy and try to make a quick friend.
7. Why didn’t I Just Stay at Work Guy – I sat behind this guy in one of the sessions at ECHO. He was on his laptop the entire time working on a flyer in photoshop, writing a blog post, and responding to emails.
Apparently this guy’s normal office is so terrible that he’d rather spend $750 on flights, hotels, and conference tickets to do his work in a new location while ignoring a great speaker. Makes a ton of sense.
That’s my list but I know I’m missing a ton of people.
So you tell me, who do YOU not want to be at a conference?