I take various jobs to supplement my writing income. Recent work was to be parked at pre-registration for the Search Engines Strategies Expo, which wrapped up March 25th at the New York Hilton.

“Pre-registration” meant, mostly, scanning bar codes from printed emails or Smart Phones. The fair claimed to be “…the leading search and social marketing event…” and I believed it, because lots of folks from the big-hitting companies were in attendance. I recognized the names, but only acknowledged them in accordance with my New York-stoic, been-there, seen-you face. I looked up, smiled with no teeth, and brandished my scanner.

Barcode scanner. Easy to use!

I continued with that course of abject detachment, and took in the fashion style of search engine experts. They do vary, my. What was universal was a lack of ties on gentlemen. If one happened to wear a tie, it was a splash of solid color: pale blue, for example, tastefully pre-spring.

Leather jackets were de rigueur and shirts mostly untucked. Surprisingly, I saw a lot of Navy pea coats. And this was across age groups. Young men had more hair, wore headbands and bracelets and avoided blazers, but all men shared a constant phone-watch, wore sneaker-type soft soles and did NOT smile. The exception to smiling was non-native Americans.

The women were not of a like style, except for a bit of similarity according to age groups. The women students were trying on their corporate style, but failed miserably because they wore nightclub shoes with their suits.

  • Women in their late twenties and thirties piled their hair up, wore expensive-comfortable and had their phones ready.
  • Women in their late twenties and thirties were quiet if they were around their male colleagues.
  • Women in their late twenties and thirties seem to be lying in wait.

Women in their forties and fifties were comfortable, had grown their hair out, paid very good money for streaks and chunks and had given over to comfortable, parachute-silk clothing. Their phones weren’t out, but I knew they were there. Nothing was holding them back.

Not an actual photo

Most of this was lost on the attendees themselves, because entrenched style is just that. Attendees were busy visually scanning, out on maneuvers, meeting and scheduling. Conference energy translates to quick moves, sleeve-tugging and promises to eat lunch together. It’s all about looking over other people’s heads until the ONE PERSON has been met, then going back to the list to determine the next person to uncover. This is not impolite, not at all, and no one is to be blamed for assuming this stance. This is simply what happens when one is mashed into a few days with hundreds of people who share like goals, who are striving forward, who need to justify all the extra time and effort it took to get Midtown NYC.

A handful were the precious exception, meaning the people who had the luxury to merely wait and see who would coming tugging. Offense rather than defense, if you will. I’m sure they too registered, but I couldn’t have told you. I was too busy translating acronyms and writing this entry in my head.

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