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6 Ways Not to Behave at a Tech Conference

We had some fun last week. Echelon Thailand happened and we were prize providers for the pitching competition. We had got tshirts and business cards printed and were ready to have two days of awesome fun. On the agenda was connecting with fellow startups and learning from the invaluable talks… or so we thought.

We quickly discovered that we were unsure of ourselves and somewhat shy and closed when arriving at the event. Our team kept together and our efforts at talking to other startups and individuals were poor. It took us the whole of the first day to really loosen up. It wasn’t until the after party of the first day that we started to feel comfortable with talking to other people. You know what… we didn’t die a horrible death, everyone was actually pretty nice!

Here are six pieces of advice I wish I had known last Thursday;

Don’t Be Shy

This is a pretty hard thing to overcome but just going around and introducing yourself to others isn’t so difficult. You will find that people love to talk about their startups and what they are working on. If you ask them questions and strike up a conversation further than ‘whats your name’, ‘what is your company’ then you are more likely to be remembered. Both yours and their time won’t have been wasted.

Don’t Stick to a Group

For most of the first day at the event we were staying as a group and watching all the talks together. This wasn’t needed and we should have felt comfortable in exploring our own interests. I am not a technical guy so the talk on Amazon Web Services wasn’t something of interest to me and I should have explored other areas.

The Speakers are Human

Sure, they may have had some crazy success or have told a good story but at the end of the day they are human like everyone else. At Echelon, when a speaker had finished his talk he would exit the room. It wasn’t uncommon for those that wanted to speak further with them to follow them out and congratulate them on the talk. This is a great opener to further discussions and perhaps arranging a meeting for which our CEO had great success.

Don’t be Afraid to Linger

Waiting for the perfect opportunity to strike up a conversation with someone rarely happens. It is likely that the person you want to talk with will already be in conversation when you arrive. You shouldn’t let this deter you. Just wait and listen to what is being said and if you feel you can have any useful input in the form of a question then feel free to interject.

Be Yourself

The great thing about tech conferences is that everyone who attends has similar interests. If you go to a tech conference and you are not interested in startups or technology then you are going to have a boring time. The majority of people are also involved in startups as a founder or have great ideas. There is no reason to change who you are when talking to anyone at these events.

Go to the After Parties

You may have had a long day and just want to prepare for the next day but the after parties are invaluable. This is often where everyone will let their hair down and you are more likely to speak with people openly. Meetings can be arranged, ideas discussed and contacts introduced at an after party. Also, there is usually a special on the drinks if not an open bar to help you gain confidence!

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