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August 15, 2014 // 8:00 AM

The 12 Types of People You’ll Meet at a Conference

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Perona_Blog_ImageTo all the conference-goers out there, I’d like to challenge you to think long and hard about one simple question: What’s your goal?

There are so many different benefits and things you could focus on during a conference, it gets really difficult to choose which one you should go for. Should you be networking to make connections with smart people? Should you stick to learning and diligently take notes during the breakout sessions? Maybe your goal is simply to follow the keynote speakers around until they notice you. 

To help you discover the which goal you should have at your next conference, I broke each out into specific personas below. (And if you're attending INBOUND 2015, you can use this as self-diagnosis of sorts to help you figure out how to make the most of the conference and city while you're here.)

So which type of conference attendee are you? Check out the list below to find out.

12 Types of People You’ll Find at a Conference

1) The Networker

The_Networker

Goal = Meet smart people

The networker aims to meet and make lasting connections with other professionals in the industry. Chances are, they have a lot of connections on social media and have connected to attendees through the conference hashtag ahead of time. You’ll probably see this person chatting up multiple groups of people during happy hour and handing out business cards.

2) The Sponge

The_Sponge

Goal = Learning

This is the person who’s just at the conference to soak up as much information as possible. You’ll probably see this person juggling a laptop, smartphone, and notebook with a pen, and diligently taking notes (or live-tweeting) from each. The biggest struggle this person faces is deciding on which sessions to attend (they’re all so great!!).

3) The Innovator

The_Innovator

Goal = Get inspired

If you watch TED Talks on a daily basis and your favorite book is Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson, you might fall into the “innovator” category. These are the people who go to conferences to get inspiration and spark some creativity. Entrepreneurs, thinkers, and problem solvers would fall under this bucket.

4) The Superfan

The_Groupie_2

Goal = Meet the keynote speakers

You’ll find this person all over social media before you even arrive at the conference. One superfan conference habit includes excessively tweeting to the hashtag that you’re “so excited to meet @speaker.” Superfans never forget to include a speaker’s Twitter handle in hopes that he or she will retweet or reply. If there’s a book signing at the conference (or maybe even if there isn’t), the superfan is first in line with every book the author has ever published in hand.

5) The Job Seeker

The_Job_Seeker

Goal = Get a job

Job seekers might have a few different goals for a conference depending on which stage of the job hunt they’re in. If this person is in the awareness stage, he or she might simply listen and learn about companies, jobs, and people they’d like to work with. If this person is beyond that awareness stage, he or she may have already made connections with people ahead of time via LinkedIn or Twitter, and wants to give them an elevator pitch in person, along with a resume or portfolio.

6) The Deal Maker

The_Deal_Maker_2

Goal = Establish a business partnership

Similar to the “networker,” the deal maker attends a conference with the goal of creating business partnerships. This could be for co-marketing, co-branding, sponsorships, speaking opportunities ... the list goes on. This person might even take a tip from the networker, making lasting relationships first and doing business sometime after the conference.

7) The Blogger

The_Blogger

Goal = Write high quality content

This is the person who attends a conference specifically for blog (or other content) fodder. You’ll see this person listening to keynotes and breakout sessions while writing down an outline or quotes on a laptop. When meeting bloggers in-person at a conference, watch out because they might be wired! Just kidding ... but they might try to write down some quotes from your conversation (after asking for permission, of course).

8) The Teacher

The_Teacher

Goal = Relay knowledge to teammates

I don’t mean teacher in the traditional sense, but rather the person you send to the conference who will come back with awesome takeaways. The teacher should take excellent notes and relay them back to his or her team. This person might even write up a wiki page or create a presentation to show your team when they return.

9) The Thought Leader

The_Thought_Leader

Goal = Stay successful

These are generally the conference speakers. These folks talk specifically about a subject matter they know almost everything about. They’ve probably written books and countless blog articles on the same topic and have loads of followers on social media. It might seem like they have a buzz on, but really they’re just riding the adrenaline from taking the stage.

10) The Spy

The_Spy_2

Goal = Competitive intelligence

This is the person who goes to a conference solely to check out the competition. This person might ask: What does the competition’s presence look like at this conference? What are they doing right? What are they doing wrong? Then, this information is compiled, analyzed, and turned into a plan of action. Attending a conference as a spy is actually a popular sales enablement tactic and can give your sales team the soundbites they need to close more deals.

11) The Salesperson

The_Deal_Maker_4

Goal = Make a sale

Similar to the deal maker, a salesperson aims to close on a deal. The difference here is that salespeople are usually only interested in selling their company’s core products and services. This interaction could happen during the conference, or sometime after the conference when the prospect has thought the deal over.

12) The Partier

The_Partier

Goal = Have fun

Finally, we’ve reached the inevitable. You know, the person who rages at all the parties, dances with everyone at the concert, and seriously takes advantage of the free drinks. It’s okay to have a little partier in you during a conference. In fact, it could be a great way to break the ice! However, I’d suggest attending a conference with some of the first eleven goals in mind -- you’ll be a lot more productive that way. ;-)

Which of these types can you relate to most? 

awkward conference networking guide

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