I went to my first conference with a group of REMC / Electric Co-Op’s from around the country last week. We were a “vendor” at the meeting so had the chance to set up a little table, meet some other vendors serving this industry, and talk to a wide variety of people from the REMC industry. I learned a number of things, and wanted to get them down here before I lose this sheet of paper. I may come back to this and embellish it later, but these are key things that I can do better at (or keep doing) the next time we go to a conference of any sort. Most of these are in the order of their occurance, or just randomly inserted because I remembered them.

  • It was a good idea to come as early as we did. We had our choice of tables, and also had easily access to electricity. Some other vendors that came later did not have any access to electric.
  • There was a wide variety of booth styles. Some people had 8 foot tall setups with great marketing slogans and images, others had a table full of tools, while still others had a setup much like the science fair days I used to love. Our table was not the only one with something on a computer screen, either, although it was one of only a few.
  • People are friendly. SMILE. Just because they know you have something to sell them (or help them buy) doesn’t mean that you can’t get to know them first.
  • People could not tell what we did from a 5 second glance at our table. Unless you deciphered the name, you really didn’t even know we were in the IT Consulting Business. A conversation was required. This was not ideal in this type of setting. I had relied on hoping the right slide was showing at the right time to capture the right person’s attention. Not so smart. On the second day of the conference, I took out almost every slide about “us” and just left in the pieces about the solutions we had to offer. We got a lot more attention that day.
  • As a second part to the previous lesson, there are ways to share what we do so someone doesn’t have to have a 60 second plus conversation with us first.
  • It’s important to know what type of people you’ll be dealing with, or at least what type you probably won’t be dealing with. We started off talking about our Ticket Management system, which really wasn’t in line with what most of the people we met on day 1 were. They were mainly from out of town and were also mainly safety people.
  • Toys. Toys. Toys. One guy had some sort of static ray gun that looked like it came out of an alien space ship on Star Trek. How much attention did that get him! It was amazing. I thought about bringing up Angry Birds on my laptop, but that didn’t seem entirely appropriate. Having somethign people can touch, feel, or simply be curious about would have been a great help.
  • Don’t expect to be able to hang something on the wall. It was made of concrete. No straight pins there.
  • I noticed that I tend to like to look busy so that I don’t look idle.

Well that’s what I have down from my notes… I’m sure there will some more stuff come to mind, but that’s down for now.