I’m pretty good at reading people. It’s part having a constantly on B.S. detector, part having met a lot of different kinds of people in my life and business.
Some people have tried to waste my time. And I don’t want them to waste yours too.
Here are three kinds of people I completely avoid; why I want to stay away from them; and how I know when they are standing in front of me.
The Right Down To Business Person
Traits: Usually wearing straight-from-work clothes at the party even though it’s Saturday night; knows next to nothing about you as a person; doesn’t really do small talk
Most likely to: Ask me some work question at a party then walk off when someone more important walks in the room.
As someone who grew up with a father constantly questioned about business stuff in social situations, I am trying to do the opposite of what he did by changing the subject when I am at a party/social thing and someone brings up work. Sample exchange:
Right Down To Business Person (RDTBP): So Nicole what do you think of this Google+?
Me: I think it’s a good tool for reaching certain markets and doing better in search… Hey, how’s your daughter liking college?
RDTBP: She likes it… but what about how I would use Google+ in my business.
Me: You know what? Why don’t you email me about this Monday? I’ve had a couple glasses of wine and I might not give the best answer. (smile and pause) But I’m so glad Sarah is doing well, have you been down to visit her yet?
I have this kind of exchange, at least once, at every social gathering I go to. It’s not that I don’t love my job, I am also actually genuinely interested in other people outside of their work… and I want them to be in me too!
These kind of people take themselves really seriously, and they don’t seem to want to talk to someone unless they can get something for it. It makes me feel like they’re using me and I don’t like that feeling.
(Note: They never email me on Monday about the question they had. They are content to hold on to the next question until next time they see me rather than pay for any of my advice. Oh well!)
Traits: Super vague about what their business does/sells; lurking on Facebook groups and anytime someone asks about their type of business they chime in “I can do that”; probably has not actually made enough actual money at their business to sustain themselves; (100% of the time in my case they are male)
Most likely to: Stand in the back of the room at a presentation I am giving, arms folded with a skeptical look, and approach me once everyone leaves with a vague but seemingly important business deal.
These people, to me, are hilarious. They usually carry themselves like they’re really important. They don’t have the quiet confidence of the actual important person in the room; they are more showy because they want you to notice them.
Usually the best way to get rid of these people is to ask them for more information. Like most insecure people, if you ask them for more than they know about, they freeze.
Fakeprenneur (FP): So your presentation was interesting but I don’t entirely agree with it. (Most fakeprenneurs appear to be dudes who have all read the same pickup artist book about negging.)
Me, shrugging and uneffected: Well we all have our areas of expertise and ways of communicating. Glad you liked it!
FP: I have this commodity that I need to move quickly, it’s something in every household so my target audience is everyone. I have no interest in doing this, I want to hire you. What’s this going to cost me?
Me: This sounds intriguing. If you can send me your website link or product info; a specific profile of the target customer who purchases most often from you; and what your marketing budget is, I’d be happy to work something up. Here’s my email address.
I then proceed to never hear from them again.
These people are a nightmare to work with because they think they are smarter than you without actually knowing what they want.
The Knowledge Junkie
Traits: Quotes Seth Godin/Gary Vaynerchuk/insert-tech-guru-here; sits in the front at a presentation and talks more than any other person there; follows you on social media, subscribes to your email newsletter and will do anything else with your business that’s free
Most likely to: Email me after a presentation with everything they would have added; use jargon incorrectly
As the internet doubles in size every 20 days or so, there is no way I can keep up with EVERYTHING going on… and these people really have ideas and opinions on what I should know:
Knowledge junkie (KJ): Did you read that article in the New York Times about how Snapchat’s servers were compromised. (Aside: I made this up)
Me: No but it sounds interesting and security is always a big deal online. What did they find?
KJ: Really? You haven’t read it? I mean you are in that industry so I thought you would have see it. Anyway, it seems like… (go on for about five minutes while I listen)
Me: Well I’ll have to check it out!
These people are a nightmare because they think they already know everything about your area of expertise. Heck, even I’m not that arrogant. And as I’ve learned, talking someone out of a bad idea is harder than talking them into a good one.
So as you see from my post here I have a hard time with:
1) People who I feel are using me.
2) People who feel like they are better than me.
3) People who need my help enough to (sort of) ask me for it but won’t actually use the good advice I give them.
So if you see these people in your travels, exchange a polite email, smile at them across the room, like an occasional status update but otherwise stay away. You’ll be happier (and richer) for it!
P.S. If anyone is an illustrator who’d like to draw these people, I’d totally pay you to do it! I love using credited stock images for comedic effect but I do wish I had the artistic knowledge to properly back up this blog post!