If you’ve been lucky enough to participate to a startup event in the past, it is likely you have met different types of people. We have just come back from Web Summit 2015 where we had the chance to meet cool startups, start new partnerships and shake hundreds of hands.
As a young startup company, this was the biggest event we’ve been so far and it was interesting to see how a pattern was quickly coming up and how we were becoming part of it. We were a small bit of the “event wildlife”. We knew that interaction and networking were literally golden keys to potential opportunities, so we made sure to bring a pocketful of business cards with us to help potential customers to easily get in touch with us after the event.
On the first day of the event, we had the chance to exhibit our startup and quickly we realized that there were 5 main types of attendees at Web Summit. I am not talking about the “official” ones (alpha, beta, investor, speaker, etc…): most of the people at the event were easily associable to standard categories.
Pretty much every person who attends these events is a salesperson. Everyone is trying to market new ideas, products and themselves to other at these parties. With that said, we should take into consideration the fact that everyone should stop trying to sell so hard and work on offering help to others. People who appear to be helpful are more well-received than those who seem like they are holding out their hands for money and trying to sell something especially if they try to approach you by hiring a low paid promoter girl to do so.
“So what’s your product about?” -> answer “Ah it’s great. So as you are cool, you’d love our awesome stuff designed for hip people like you. Could you please lend me your business card, I’ll make sure to get in touch with you at the end of the event.” Luckily I received only a few answers like that at Web Summit, but this type or approach is very common in small startup events where everyone is seeking for business cards to start their “deadly” follow-ups campaign the next Monday. You can easily recognize spammers as they always wear a heavy rucksack full of hundreds of business cards: some of them are so shameless that they walk around with a paper box asking for your contacts as they are organizing a cool party that night. Mmmmm ok…
Thanks to the ever-growing popularity of social media sites, this is someone that everyone will certainly come across at ANY event: startup events are not an exception. This is generally a good thing since it means that there is some type of online presence and even if you are procrast… ehm working at the office you’ll be able to follow the key moments of the event. If you end up striking a conversation with someone like this, expect to see a friend request a few seconds later followed by a selfie with you in it.
There are some people at events who are not exactly thrilled to be there. There is always at least one person that would rather be anywhere else than there. It might be that grumpy guy in the corner tweeting about how much he hates it here, or the guy sitting all by himself sipping slowly on a beverage. The Cloud Picker stand was particularly busy during all 3 days, but don’t misunderstand me, their coffee was terrific!
This category speaks for itself. This is the person that has everything under control. He has studied the event scheduled in advance and he knows the whole speeches timetable. 99% of the times you’ll find him alone: he doesn’t need any friend or colleague, Google Calendar is everything he needs.