HR Technology is not just any old conference. It’s the place where HR meets…well technology. This means that while you have the typical amount of practitioners trolling the floor, those practitioners could be your one-woman HR departments, your head of a million dollar a year HR Tech budget, a CIO getting some inside intel or a vendor scoping out the competition.
For those who haven’t attended, here are the five types of people you’ll meet at HR Tech:
This person is new to the conference world and has yet to see the tech waves crash to the shore. Their primary perch when it comes to HR Tech is that of a delighted observer. The Idealist “oohs” and “aaaahs” at all the swag on the floor writes lauding blog posts about features that have been around for ages and nods vigorously when a vendor explains their newest product as “fixing the broken recruitment process”. The idealist will not deal with criticism of a new product or company and sees any valid analyses of products as “negativity”. The great thing about an idealist though is that they bring new ideas and energy to the mix and their opinions should not be discounted simply because they come across as Pollyannaish. Instead, loop them into conversations that have been had many times before. In this way, they’ll discover their objections and raise new questions that may not have been raised before.
The cynic is oh so above it all and doesn’t even know WHY they came to HR Tech in the first place. It’s “all the same old stuff” and “the same tired speakers and presenters”. While the cynic can be a bit of a downer at parties, they are helpful when it comes to evaluating new technology and taking blowhard speakers and pundits down a peg or two. The Cynic tends to draw energy from spirited debates and deep down, really enjoys the industry and the entire scene. They’re just too cool to let you know it. Pairing a cynic with an idealist is sure to result in a conversation that nearly every vendor needs to hear and the conference organizers should listen in on. The cynic pulls no punches when pointing out issues, just make sure to have follow up questions about solutions ready to ask!
The partier is Here. To. Party. They conned their boss or company into sending them to this conference on the auspice that they’ll be demoing new tech, but really their main goal is to down as many vodka-sodas as humanly possible at the open bar parties! The partier gets everyone on the dance floor, intros person A to person B and doesn’t let anyone go un-chaperoned to the smallest event. But the partier also knows the booth staff and sales folks are the most fun after hours, so they do spend their allotted time on the expo floor (fulfilling their boss’ wish). Partiers are fantastic to have at your vendor party as they never really get started until this person finds their way there. Added bonus? They know everyone. Do NOT invite the partier to dinner, she will be bored senseless.
These are those folks who have been to more of these than you can count. Their badges are a rainbow of ribbons, stickers and titles. They don’t go up to people, people go up to them. The wisdom of these folks is enough to put on conferences by themselves. They are simply here to teach and to glean information about the way the market is leaning. Score yourself a dinner invite with a sage and bask in their long-range thinking and view of the space. Pairing a cynic with a sage is a great way to spend an evening. Throw an idealist in the mix and you have a panel in the making! Sages are useful for pointing out when someone is solving a problem that doesn’t exist or proposing a solution that has been tried in the past and proven not to work.
These folks don’t stand out as much. They’re not arguing in the sessions, or holding court in the lunchline, they didn’t get an invite to all the coolest parties or even have 57 briefings set up. They are the people building the technology, writing the startup guides, setting the pricing, setting up the booths, inviting the clients and spending most of their time talking to practitioners and vendors alike. Ask them any statistic from the last year and they can give you the source, request a viewpoint from demographic and they don’t just give you a seminal anecdote, they tell you about the survey they did in that area. Position a problem and they can tell you whether practitioners feel like it’s a legitimate concern. The doers are an often overlooked part of a conference like #HRTechConf. Keep your eye out for them and make sure to invite them to a party or two!