TechEd is a great place to meet new people, and as a consultant it can be a useful forum for making really handy new contacts, personally and professionally, some years. My marketing director at Edenbrook picked up on this, quite rightly, and gave me some handy tips for striking up a conversation about the company that I've been keen to put into play. It's hard to actually get chatting between sessions here though since the place is so damn huge and mazelike, everyone spends most of their time between sessions hurtling around with heavy bags on their backs that make them look like fat hamsters in a maze trying desperately to find cheese smell.
So, the original plan was the "Meet and Greet" session on Tuesday night. In years gone by this had taken the format of a bunch of people stood around chatting. Ideal. Meet and Greet time came and John and I followed the crowd to the meeting point which turned out to be the exhibition hall. That in itself would have been ok, but when you add limitless free beer into the mix, loud presentations and music and 6000 people in a small space things become very hard.
"Hi there, I'm Peter..."
"YEEAAH - BEER!!!!"
"WHOOOOOOOO FREE T-SHIRTS"
"Hi, I'm from Eden...."
"CHUG CHUG CHUG CHUG"
So, the next plan became the "country drinks" last night. It's billed as quite classy event, a place to meet people ("Ideal", thought I). "Country Drinks". Conjures up images of balmy days at a country club doesn't it.
"Hi, there - I see you're from...."
"GO ON HOLLAND - STICK IT TO 'EM..., I'm sorry, what was that"
"No problem, I just noticed your badge - you're from...."
"OH COME ON REFEREE. Did you see that!!!??!? Jesus H"
"Hehe, yeah, nasty. So, what's company XYZ doing ...."
"Hey, you got any hash on you?"
I did have some success this morning though. The morning after the night before, everyone turns up late (If you're a speaker and you get a Thursday 8:30am time slot you know someone somewhere thinks you suck), and mopes around looking for a shady corner to drink their coffee.
"Hey, Credit Suisse - I've worked with you guys before!"
"Oh wow, yeah, cool"
"So, what do you do? Where do you work?"
The guy was in a suit. He was well groomed. No-one here is well groomed and in a suit.
"I'm a support guy. just started a week ago."