Autumn is conference season. Typically, this is my favorite time of year — the leaves are turning, there is a chill in the air, and it’s the perfect time to spend at a conference networking and learning.
Well, not always. Unfortunately, there are some conference-goers who are more creepy than any Halloween movie.
Be on the lookout for these creeps so they don’t spoil your event experience.
“The distractor” is the person who takes five precious minutes during the best statistic or speaker to ______ (fill in the blank with the annoyingly loud habit).
It may be opening a peppermint and rattling the wrapping paper for what feels like eons. It may be receiving a call and actually trying to talk on it. For example, she squawks in a loud whisper “I am at a conference so I can’t talk …” but then she talks for five more minutes.
Or it could be the person who asks you a question or makes a comment at the point when you are trying to hear the most. Just like at the movies, you think, “I’ve seen exactly what you’ve seen, so why don’t we both just watch and listen!”
Trick or treat: The trick here is to do not trail behind. Just as in horror movies, the person in the back gets picked off, so grab a seat in the front away from the distractors.
“The seat-saver” is notorious for blocking not just one chair but more like the whole row. It may be a coat, conference bags or something as inconspicuous (and disputable) as one of the vendor flyers that seem to be on all of the chairs.
No one wants a brawl at this year’s epic conference, so what is the best way to deal with the infamous seat-saver?
Trick or treat: The treat here is to arrive early enough that you can do some pre-session networking (which is a big win!) and claim a seat before someone else does. The “early bird still gets the worm” as they say.
The schemer can be either a conference attendee or — wait for it — conference speaker (egad!).
When the schemer is an attendee, despite only literally knowing her for five minutes, she now wants to form a business partnership to the extent that she needs some very personal information from you. Or, worse yet, money. This is the equivalent to someone wanting to marry you after your first message on a dating app. No bueno!
And, do not be fooled! Even at a reputable conference, a speaker can be sketchy. Is he telling you to lie to generate or convert leads? He fits the schemer profile. Is she trying to force you to purchase a product or service that you are not comfortable with? She’s a schemer.
Sadly, I just ran into this experience and had to go on a rant about it in this video:
Trick or treat: If you have ever heard the saying, “Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater,” then you know that means keep the good and get rid of the bad. The schemer can make you standoffish toward conferences.
Instead of avoiding conferences altogether, the trick often is to not take large sums of cash, and always trust your instincts. If something feels wrong or unethical, go with your gut despite the slick words, mesmerizing testimonials and big smiles.
“The foodie” is the person who seems to be at the conference only for the food selection. Will she knock you over to get to the buffet? Yes! Will he take the last rations so that even though you are blatantly behind him, there is nothing for you except the slim pickings left on the serving spoon? Yes!
Will she bare-hand touch (ignoring the tongs) and pick through multiple bagels and pastries to see what flavors they are? Yes!
How do you not starve at an all-day conference if the foodie beats you to the line first?
Trick or treat: The trick is to always bring your own snack. I completely understand that because the price of the conference ticket included breakfast, lunch, dinner or snacks that you may be tempted to just deal with whatever scenario arises. But it’s no fun to hear your stomach grumble and growl (like it’s haunted by the ghosts of food past) when the conference food is out and the nearby eateries are far enough away to cause you to miss a session or two.
The scariest part about conference season is not being able to enjoy the show. So just like in any horror movie, the morale of the story is to not fall asleep on these creepy folks.
Lee Davenport is a licensed real estate broker, trainer and coach. Follow her on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Google+, or visit her website. This post comes from her book, Profit with Your Personality.