A tech conference is a special place. A place to lean in; a place to go from good to great; a place to move fast and break things. It's also a place with many, many men. From worst to best, here are some types that you might encounter.
11. The Guru: He’s not renting an apartment; he’s living in an intentional community of founders committed to making the world a better place. They’ve set up an ice plunge and bring in a shaman from Peru every quarter. What does he do? It’s complicated, but it has something to do with AI. Later, you find out he’s mostly doing arms contracts.
10. The Scammer:“Is anyone here raising?” Your friends, eager to be helpful, shove you towards him. He says he represents some very wealthy (and very interested) investors. All you end up with is an uncancellable subscription to a spam list.
9. The Faux Ally: You hit it off at a networking event and end up spending two hours talking him through a tough problem he's having. He asks to take a selfie together. The next day, it's up on LinkedIn with a long self-congratulatory post about how he takes the time to mentor women.
8. The Teacher: You meet him in the drink ticket line and made the mistake of telling him it’s your first time at the conference. He’s full of friendly networking tips, like “ask people lots of questions” and “everyone loves talking about themselves”. He then proceeds to tell you every detail of his meditation practice and the SAAS podcast he hosts; you won’t get a word in.
7. The Cynic: You’ll extend your hand and ask him what he does; he’ll roll his eyes. Don’t you want to talk about anything else? You’ll find yourself spilling your guts about how much you hate your boss and how meaningless you find your career sometimes. He’ll make a wisecrack about the custom branded cocktails and convince the staff to bring you two whiskies, neat. Don’t stick around though. He’ll only drag you down.
6. The Lucky Break: He hit a home run as employee #5 at a unicorn, and has since spent the rest of his career on the public speaking circuit, crafting double-spaced LinkedIn sagas in his spare time. His advice? Do what you love. Hire A-players. Fail fast.
5. The Late-Night Connect: He knows where the real afterparty is, and runs a 500+ person WhatsApp thread about it. Every conference, him and his boys rent a mansion, invite everyone who seems “cool” and take turns DJing. No phones (or work talk) allowed.
4. The Lost MBA Grad: He went to business school straight out of undergrad and thought the startups would be fighting each other to hire him as CFO. You take pity and promise to introduce him to your friend who’s hiring entry-level analysts.
3. The Dev Daddy: He’s freshly divorced and is basically a replacement dad for the L1 engineers he’s babysitting on this trip. He’ll start the night by taking them to a dignified pint at a local brewery, but will end up dragged to a nightclub and sharing a White Castle 24-pack with them at 4am.
2. The Food Friend: He’s the first to break into the catered charcuterie spread, giving you implicit permission to do the same. He’s compiled a spreadsheet of the 30 best restaurants around the conference city and gives you directions to a new BBQ joint that's not even on Google Maps yet.
1. The Real Ally: He asks what you’re hoping to get out of the conference (a job, some sales leads, funding) and does his best to make it happen. He makes valuable introductions and finangles you invitations to VIP-only events, with no weirdness and no expectations. You do the same for him.