Sponsoring a Conference or Event? Think Like it's 2006

As Staffing Industry Analysts’ Executive Forum comes closer I was thinking about a couple of things. I was thinking about how networking has changed and I was thinking about conference booths.  Now I know you might think that those thoughts are random and disconnected, but they are related.

I caught random snippets from an interview that National Public Radio was doing with the president of LinkedIn this morning. Yesterday, I was looking for an email that I had sent in the past and ended up looking at a bunch of emails from 2006. The majority of emails were professional “stay in touch” emails.  How 2006…. Then I was looking at a piece of paper on my desk that said “ideas for blogs: booths.” Now I offer you the convergence of my thoughts.

If you are sponsoring a conference or an event, whether it is Executive Forum, some other Staffing Industry Analysts conference or just another event, doing pre-work is the way to get people to visit your booth. I have noticed during my tenure at Staffing Industry Analysts that the booths that now show up at our events have become bigger, more complex and filled with interesting gimmicks to attract attendees to stop by. I love some of the things I have seen: margaritas served in light up glasses, magicians, do-it-yourself ice cream sundaes, and espresso carts – all very unique and fun things to liven up a booth. However, in my experience, it is the networking prior to the event that really works.

Prior to your event, get a list of attendees. Review that list with your sales and marketing staff.  Make personal connections with the people who you most want to see. They key to success is don’t send a blast email to everyone, don’t call everyone, be selective. Go back to 2006, pick up the phone and call those prospects who you believe are the most interesting to you.  Invite them to visit your booth; write them a note, tell them that you noticed they were going to be at the conference or event and tell them what you will be displaying and why it makes sense to visit you. Offer the prospect a compelling reason to visit your booth amongst all of the others. If you are going to be at Executive Forum, use Executive Forum Mobile our mobile conference website to make connections. 

Once at the show, reach out and talk to people. I viewed a video of how sales people who were stationed at booths at tradeshows allowed people to simply walk by the booth and not say a single thing to the person walking by. Be friendly, say hello to people who are walking by, smile at them, and say something about the conference. Ask people what the best session they attended was thus far; engage them about something that is relatable before you give your spiel about your product or service.

Conference and events are difficult to navigate. We all get information overload. However, I always remember the friendly people who offered me a bag if I seemed to be carrying too many things. I always appreciate that people are interested in what I think about the sessions or about the conference overall. I am often grateful when people ask me why I attended the conference in the first place.  Mostly, if someone takes the time to call me prior to the event and tells me what they are going to display, it gives me the opportunity to plan my day and to plan my time at the conference.

I encourage you to reach out to attendees prior to conferences and events. Create a meaningful interaction and then invite them to meet you for a margarita, coffee or an ice cream sundae at your booth.

If you have some interesting way of attracting people to your booths at conferences and events, why not make a posting to this blog. I am sure everyone would like to know what works.


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