Mar 17, 2003

In spite of the post 9/11 travel slowdown, it seems like there are more trade shows and conferences for A/Es and construction companies than ever before. As dutiful ZweigWhiters, we seem to get to all of ‘em... usually as speakers, but occasionally as rank-and-file attendees. It’s always interesting to observe the fellow conference-goers. Following is a brief review of some of the types of people we see at these events: The Monopolizer— The monopolizer always ties up the speaker with endless commentary and questions and can’t stop talking about how things are done in their own firms. Sometimes other naive audience members get very interested in what the monopolizer has to say and it’s hard to not let everyone else there know how screwed up this guy’s company really is! The New Best Friend— The new best friend is someone you speak to at the early morning coffee pot or quesadilla buffet line who attaches themselves to you from that point on. He or she goes to all of the same breakouts, seeks you out at cocktail hour, and then invites himself or herself along to dinner with you and the clients you were trying to cultivate. The Last-Minute Questioner— We have all experienced the pain caused by the last-minute questioner at one time in our lives. These are the people who insist on asking a lame question of the speaker after the speaker has already run five minutes over... delaying a badly needed, coffee-fueled bladder-emptying break. The Party-Monger— These conference attendees get out of Kenosha or Cedar Falls and away from Mama only once a year. And when they do... it’s P-A-R-T-Y time for them. They drink as much as they can as early as they can and then show up 10 minutes late for the first general session looking sick enough to pay homage to the porcelain god at any moment. The Cheapskate Crasher— This conference attendee is not even a paid registrant. But he or she lives in the area and “drops by for the cocktail hour just to check out who’s there.” A surefire tip-off to who is a cheapskate crasher is when you see an attendee not wearing the conference-issued nametag but instead donning their own “ABC and Associates” name tag... made of simulated engraved brass on plastic. The Sam Slicko Seller— There is only one reason the Sam slicko seller is at the conference and that is to generate as many leads as he or she can for their company’s products or services. These well-dressed, superficially friendly types can whip out their business card cases faster than the TV networks introduce us to another reality-based show. They won’t let you go without giving them yours and making you promise to take a look at the information they’re soon to be sending you. The Missing in Action (MIA)— This attendee is registered, and their employers think they are at the conference, yet their name tags remain conspicuously on the registration table long after the last speaker evaluation form is filled out. Where are they? No one ever knows. The Sleazoid Runaround— The sleazoid runaround comes in both male and female forms. Often confused with the party-monger because they tend to enjoy the late night festivities, the difference is that their entire mission is to score with the opposite sex. Watch out for tell-tale wedding ring depressions on their left-hand ring fingers! Of course, at any of these events the solid majority of folks are there for the right reasons. But then they don’t make good newsletter fodder, do they? Originally published 3/17/2003

About Zweig Group

Zweig Group, three times on the Inc. 500/5000 list, is the industry leader and premiere authority in AEC firm management and marketing, the go-to source for data and research, and the leading provider of customized learning and training. Zweig Group exists to help AEC firms succeed in a complicated and challenging marketplace through services that include: Mergers & Acquisitions, Strategic Planning, Valuation, Executive Search, Board of Director Services, Ownership Transition, Marketing & Branding, and Business Development Training. The firm has offices in Dallas and Fayetteville, Arkansas.