Attending a conference is a great way to connect with like-minded individuals and learn from experts in your field. But let’s be real, one of the most exciting parts of conference-going is getting to meet fellow linguists from all over the world, with diverse backgrounds, languages, and personalities.
To make the most out of your conference experience, we’ve put together a list of the different types of attendees you may encounter. See if you can relate to any of them, and learn how to make the most out of your interactions with them:
1) The Professional
This attendee is a seasoned interpreter or translator who has been attending conferences for years and may even be involved with conference committees. They attend conferences to satisfy continuing education requirements and to network with colleagues and friends in the industry.
How to: Discuss industry innovations or ask for tips on certification exams.
2) The Social Butterfly
What better way to showcase your charisma than at a conference full of people? The social butterfly knows this better than anyone – they are a networking machine with a gregarious personality that helps them make contacts, acquire leads, and close deals. Warm and friendly, the social butterfly makes a great impression and is hard to forget. They are the ultimate schmoozer.
How to: Networking with them is easy. Just catch their glance, smile, and enjoy as the social butterfly will initiate introductions and communication. Unless they are stopped on the way to you by admirers and multiple buddies.
3) The Learner
Conferences are an information sponge’s dream, the learner is the person who takes full advantage of it. With so many presentations on a wide range of topics, there is plenty to learn. You’ll be able to spot the learner quite easily. They can be seen running from session to session, taking notes, and asking questions.
How to: Ask them what they think about the workshop you both attended. You are likely to learn something new from them!
4) The Networking Introvert
They may prefer to stay at home with their cat, but they are still eager to connect and chat with other conference-goers. Especially if they are new to the event or the industry. Everyone looks like they know each other; everything seems connected and buzzing with joy of recognition. The horror!
How to: Even if they seem disengaged or occupied browsing their phone, don’t hesitate to approach them with a friendly introduction. Introverts are often full of useful information and great professional expertise.
5) The Educator
You can see them running a session or simply mingling with peers. They usually look very distinguished and confident, as this is most likely the hundredth conference they’ve been to, and they trained many of its attendees and speakers. At one of the previous ATA events we had an honor of dining with a veteran translator who had attended some of the first ATA conferences, and the chat was so interesting that it became the highlight of the conference for us. Whether they present at this conference or not, educators are a great source of knowledge and fun stories.
How to: Look sharp and ask many questions.
6) The Presenter
A presenter might look confident, but no one is immune to stage fright, be they new or seasoned speakers. Especially at such major conferences as the annual ATA gig.
How to: Make the presenter’s day by telling them how interesting their speech was, and what you liked about it specifically.
7) The Exhibitor
Sitting in a booth all day can get lonely. Not everyone knows that, but exhibitors are more than happy to greet anyone approaching their booth with a curious gaze and/or questions.
How to: Stop by even if you are only interested in a sugary pick-me-up or yet another stress ball. The goal is to have all the swag gone by the end of the conference anyway. The exhibitors are the only attendees here who have to work non-stop. Show them some love by asking about their job and exchanging business cards to connect on LinkedIn. Who knows, it might become some of your best connections at the conference.
8) The Businessperson
These attendees are at the conference to make money. They may be looking to pitch and sell their products, pass out resumes or business cards, or establish partnerships and relationships with other businesspeople.
How to: Ask them what they like most about their job. Businesspeople love talking about their business.
9) The Intelligence Operative
Conferences bring all types of language companies together under one roof. Whether they’re selling services, training programs, or software, it’s inevitable that representatives from these companies will be checking out their competition. These intelligence operatives will gather information, even posing as potential customers, by asking questions and collecting a rival’s marketing materials.
How to: Ask if they know of any job openings for a professional linguist.