Why you may not want to talk to panelists after events…

As I’ve been out in the community going to events and spreading the word about Greenhorn Connect, I’ve seen my share of panel discussions.  One lesson I’ve learned from all those panels is that regardless of how the panel itself went or if you think you have a great idea, question or thought to share with a panelist, you generally don’t gain much by approaching panelists after events.

Every conversation with a panelist has generally gone the same. They’re tired. They just want to go home/run and catch their plane/get a drink.  They’ve heard a million pitches thanks to all the other panels they’ve been on and so they’re usually on autopilot in the conversation trying to just find the quickest way to the exit.  I totally understand this and respect this.

So what do I recommend you do instead?  If you have a great thought…make sure you share it during the Q&A. If you didn’t get to…use it as a conversation topic with other members of the audience. Anyone who doesn’t run up to approach the panelist is also likely to be more interested in making meaningful networking connections and share good conversation.

Please don’t take this as a jab at panelists. In fact, this is more of a recognition of the difficulties of being a panelist. It is rightfully tiring to be on a panel and usually if you’re part of the panel, it’s because you’re an influential/important person in the area of discussion, which likely means you’re insanely busy.  I also know that many people are dying to talk to you just so they can say they did or to dump their pitch on you or push their business card down your throat.  I never want to be that person and so I generally now make it a rule not to bother approaching panelists I don’t already know well.  I’d rather talk to a few more of the people in the audience that obviously shared my interest in the topic of the panel and make those meaningful connections that won’t just lead to the awkward “I’ll contact you in a month or two” and “sorry, I forgot my business cards” kind of discussions.

**Disclaimer #1** If you have something exceptionally relevant to discuss with a panelist and this is the only chance you’ll ever have to talk to them, then by all means, approach them. I think in general though, you’re better off working through your network to get an introduction to the person; this qualifies you and gives more context than “another eager audience member that wants to give me their card…”

**Disclaimer #2** If I’m ever on a panel, please don’t think this post means I don’t want to talk to you. Just realize that you should have more to say than “you should hear my pitch” or  “I’d like to meet you.”  Is there something related to what I’m working on or something I talked about in the panel that’s particularly relevant to what you’re doing or a question you have?

2 thoughts on “Why you may not want to talk to panelists after events…

  1. I think whether an individual panelist is open to deep discussion after a panel is a function of a lot of things (the panelist, their schedule, how taxing their panel was on them mentally, etc. etc.). I’ve been on some panels immediately after which I was just toast. I’ve been on others after which I was rarin’ to go for hours on end.

    That said, if there’re 200 people in the audience and afterwards 20 want to talk to a given panelist, it’s helpful to all involved to be respectful of everybody’s time and not corner the panelist for the rest of the evening :-) .

  2. Shawn,

    Thanks for the comment. Definitely have seen both types of panelists, although in my experience most seem to be erring on the side of being toast.

    I think the key to remember is that everyone in the audience came to see the same people you did. That’s a pretty strong commonality…they may be worth a connection too, so take advantage of the fact you’re with a targeted audience.

    Thanks,
    -Jason

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