The Leadership Guru Wannabe
The Leadership Guru Wannabe. We all know at least one. They invariably believe there’s no such thing as a healthy work/life balance, continually populate your LinkedIn feed with passages from self-improvement books, and are commonly found attending webinars in their ‘free’ time.
This big shot takes every opportunity to turn the spotlight onto themselves; a self-professed thought leader with far-fetched descriptors such as ‘jedi’, ‘ninja’, ‘rock star’, or ‘wizard’ in their job title. They’ll tell you all about the many obstacles they’ve faced to get where they are, though ‘where they are’ is actually just a conference in Kettering.
They will normally have little interest in what you’ve got going on and are more focused on giving you their elevator pitch for their cool new startup. This blue-chip bore has read Wired magazine twice and has seen every Gary Vee video from start to finish. Now, their sole focus is to disrupt ‘the industry’ as much as possible. Which industry? They didn’t give you much information beyond that.
Will you be attending their workshop? Unlikely.
Pinballing from sponsor exhibit to sponsor exhibit amassing as much free swag as physically possible, the Collector is mostly just here for a good time. Also known as the ‘Trick-or-Treater’, this person feigns interest in the brand’s sales pitch or software demo, nodding along eagerly while they stuff their pockets with branded USB sticks and keyrings.
Sometimes, Collectors will come in pairs – one will act as lookout, distracting the stall’s occupier with a series of inane questions about the product or service offered, as if they’re actually interested in the development process behind an app that’s just Tinder for corporate dog owners. Meanwhile, the other is filling their boots with branded goodies.
Sure, this person may have come to the exhibition to learn and bring back information to their team, but not until they have grabbed enough branded pens to last them until the end of days. I mean, sometimes all you really need in life is a free wind-up torch. Oh, and a sticker. And a reusable coffee cup.
Can you blame them? According to Princeton Marketing, 52% of trade show attendees are more likely to enter an exhibit if there’s freebies up for grabs. Don’t hate the player, hate the game. The Collector isn’t a bad person – in fact, we think they’re pretty smart – but if you’re accosted by one, there’s a good chance you’ll be forced to join their operation. If you’ve come to the exhibition to network, or learn, or do anything productive whatsoever, steer clear of this person.
The LinkedIn Creeper
The LinkedIn Creeper is on a mission to ‘win’ LinkedIn. This person has turned social media gamification into an art form, adding everyone within arm’s reach (including those working on the coffee stand and in the cloakroom), with accepters treated to a pre-populated LinkedIn message: “Thanks for connecting – I’m just building my network.”
The LinkedIn Creeper believes his connections are actual friends, throws out endorsements for fun in the hope of an endorsement in return, and will definitely congratulate you on your ‘work anniversary’. You’ll see them comment on everything, and you know they take every convoluted metaphorical post about ‘not judging a book by its cover’ to be fact.
The LinkedIn Creeper updates their profile whenever they move desks and has almost certainly checked LinkedIn every Christmas Day since 2009. We can only hope that they’ve grown bored of it during the COVID restrictions – we doubt it.
LinkedIn? Completed it, mate. And don’t we all know it.
If you’re extremely unlucky, you’ve been ‘barnacled’ before; and for your sake, I hope you have learned your lesson. The Barnacle is the type of person who is at the event but probably isn’t that comfortable going up to new people and forming lots of connections. Instead, they will scan the room to identify the easiest target (usually anyone that remotely shows any interest in them) and will attach themselves.
Once attached, they’ll be with you for the entirety of the event, piggybacking on all of your conversations and awkwardly dropping non-sequiturs that you’re forced to laugh off. Tell-tale signs of a barnacle are they will usually be whispering out of the corner of their mouth to you that they’ve “never been to one of these things before.”
You tend to feel a little bad for the Barnacle but that sympathy dissipates once they’ve alienated a few potential clients with their silent, overly-intense eye contact. At least they’re not as bad as the Leadership Guru Wannabe.
Mind if I tag along with you? “No Hablo Ingles.”
The Escape Artist
For an Escape Artist, the main purpose of coming to a conference or exhibition is to seek the holy grail: getting out of work without having to use any annual leave. Although they might learn one or two things and network with some interesting people, escaping from the conference centre as early as possible is their primary objective.
Given the four other types of people you’re likely to meet at the exhibition, can you blame them?
You’ll most likely come across the Escape Artist nipping in and out of a couple of (morning) talks, scribbling down a few notes during breakout sessions, retweeting some of the Tweets from the official conference hashtag, and then leaving early to enjoy the sunshine or nip back to their hotel room for forty winks.
Did you catch the 6pm talk? Erm … which one was that again?
Maybe the Escape Artist isn’t as bad as the other exhibition culprits, but we’d make sure to steer clear. You might be wasting your time with someone who doesn’t want to be there, or worse still, you might be tempted to skive off too.
So, readers of this article will no doubt fall into one of two categories. Either you’ve met at least one of the above personalities, or, dare I say, you might be one! Regardless, we hope this guide will help you adapt to those around you now that COVID-19 restrictions have drawn to a close and the business world is very much back in motion.
It will be interesting to see if the exhibition-goer archetypes still hold up in the new professional landscape. If we’re lucky, we might even have seen the last of the Leadership Guru Wannabe, but that seems highly unlikely. In fact, if anything, they’re probably even worse.
Excitement about exhibitions being possible once again is ramping up; printing experts Solopress have experienced a high demand for promotional materials for use in upcoming events.
Quote From Solopress
Simon Cooper, Managing Director of Solopress, commented: “After the restrictions and setbacks of the last twenty months, it’s been great to see the return of trade shows, conferences, and exhibitions. As a result, we’ve seen a spike in demand for event-related materials such as Roller Banners and Exhibition Stands, as well as marketing staples like Brochures, Flyers and Leaflets. The sharp rise in Business Card orders is also a healthy indicator that business people are ready to mingle.”
Danny Powell started his marketing career with eight years at HMV head office, after a stint selling records on the shopfloor. Thereafter, he specialised in copywriting roles, both agency-side and client-side. At Solopress, Danny has developed a wealth of print industry knowledge that he brings to bear in blog articles and thought leadership pieces. In his spare time, Danny loves collecting and playing guitars as well as performing live.