By Lee Davenport
Autumn is conference season! Typically, this is my favorite time of year—the leaves are turning, there’s a chill in the air, and it’s the perfect time to spend networking and learning at a conference (the REALTORS® Conference & Expo coming up this weekend in Boston, for instance).
Unfortunately, there are some conference-goers who are creepier than any Halloween-themed fright movie.
Be on the lookout for these scary conference-goers so they don’t spoil your time at the event.
The Distractor is the person who takes five precious minutes during the part of the best presentation or panel discussion to ______ (fill in the blank with an annoyingly-loud habit). It may be opening a peppermint and rattling the wrapper for what feels like eons. It may be answering a call and actually trying to talk on the phone: Squawking in a loud whisper, “I am at a conference so I can’t talk…” then continues to talk for five more minutes. Or, it could be the person who asks you a question or makes a comment when you are trying to listen. Just like at the movies, you think, “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 trailing in the back gets picked off, so grab a seat in the front of the room, which is usually away from “The Distractors.”
The Seat-Saver is notorious for blocking not just one or two chairs, 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 Seat-Saver?
Trick or Treat: The treat here is to arrive early enough so 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.
The Schemer can be either a conference attendee or…wait for it…conference speaker—egad! An example of the Schemer is an attendee who—despite only knowing you for five minutes—now wants to form a business partnership and is asking for some very personal information from you. Or, worse yet, money. Ugh. This is the equivalent to someone wanting to marry you after your first message on a dating app. No bueno!
Do not be fooled! Even at a reputable conference, a speaker may be sketchy. Is he or she telling you to lie to generate or convert leads? Then this person fits the Schemer profile. Is he or she trying to force you to purchase a product or service, but you’re not comfortable shelling out your “duckettes”? Then this person is the 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 towards conferences. Instead of avoiding conferences altogether, the trick often is to not take large sums of cash and trust your instincts. If something feels wrong or unethical, go with your gut in spite of the person’s slick words, mesmerizing testimonials, and big smile.
The Foodie is the person who seems to be at the conference only for the food selection. Will he or she knock you over to get to the buffet? Yes! Will he or she take the last rations so that even though you are blatantly behind them, there is nothing left for you except the pickings left on the serving spoon? Yes! Will this person bare-hand touch (ignoring the tongs) and pick through multiple pieces of bagels/pastries to see what the flavor is? 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 since the price of the conference ticket included breakfast, lunch, dinner, or snacks, you may be tempted to just deal with whatever scenario arises. But it’s no fun to hear your stomach grumble and growl (like your stomach is haunted) when the conference food is out and walking to the nearest eatery would cause you to miss a session or two.
The scariest part of conference season is when you’re not enjoying the experience. So, just like any horror movie, the morale of the story (besides not falling asleep) is to avoid those creepy folks!
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Dr. Lee Davenport is an Atlanta-based real estate coach who trains agents, teams, brokerages, and other business organizations on how to use today’s technology to work smarter. Join Lee’s free RE Tech Insider’s Club by visiting www.LearnWithLee.REALTOR.