Millions of people attend conferences and seminars for their jobs every year. They have to travel, stay in hotels and sit through keynote speeches, breakout meetings and walk thousands of steps in exhibit halls. People who work in customer facing roles have the pleasure of actually working at these conferences in order to engage with their current customers and also find new customers.
Attending a conference can throw off your work day groove. Being stuck in a booth with coworkers all day can lead to unhappiness at work. Especially if they don’t carry their weight to do a portion of the work. I had to work a conference once with a colleague who spent the majority of his time in the booth working on his laptop. Say what?! I don’t think the person ever thought about standing up and looking at the people walking through the exhibit hall rather than waiting for them to walk in the booth.
Eating the heavy food that is served and spending an excessive amount of time sitting in sessions is dangerous to your health and work happiness, too. This combination can leave you feeling sluggish at the end of the day. One solution to address this issue can be heading outside for some fresh air. There have been weeks that I have worked a conference when I didn’t get a chance to step outside the building until it was time to go home.
Because many conferences occur annually, organizations try to stuff as much content as possible into the agenda. This can create information overload for attendees. That is why I think that the primary job for people who are working the booths at the conference is simply to meet people and work to establish rapport. Sure, you want to let them know what products and services your company can offer them. But people buy from people – normally people they like.
Attendees are not going to remember the pushy salesperson. But the attentive ones that treat them like people and not the next purchase order will be the salespeople whose call or email they respond to after the conference is over. I find being kind and not pushy are important. Expressing gratitude for their interest, even if they only stepped their feet in your booth to grab the giveaway, establishes you as the kind of professional people want to buy from.
These are just a few suggestions for how to handle yourself at the annual conference. I’d love to hear any others you’d like to share in the comments.