In about two months, individuals will be heading to Washington D.C. to attend the 2016 SHRM Annual Conference. This will be my 16th SHRM Annual Conference, and, based on my years of experience, here are the things vendors should NOT be doing as they prepare for the big event and the thousands attending:
1. Do NOT treat students with disrespect
Ideally, every person who walks through the exhibit hall should be addressed with respect. However, it is inevitable every year that my students will come back with horror stories about being treated rudely by someone manning an exhibit hall booth. I know you are there to make potential sales connections, and a student is unlikely to be a customer anytime soon. However, if these students are dedicated enough to travel to Washington, D.C. to attend the conference, they are dedicated to the profession, and will likely be a potential customer in the future. They are also there to learn about the product/service you offer and what you can bring any HR professional who chooses to buy from you. Don't burn a bridge before it has a chance to be constructed, as those students will remember who did them wrong!
2. Do NOT offer a booth drawing if it is not authenticI expect to go 0 for 16 in having my name drawn from a vendor for one of the booth prizes, despite having my badge scanned or business card submitted over a thousand times over the years. Why? Some (I said, some, not all) vendors offer the pretense of a drawing for a booth prize when, in actuality, they will only choose a winner from a current customer. That being said, if a vendor is not offering a legitimate random drawing, and are just fishing for leads, what kind of customer relationship are they really offering?
3. Do NOT offer unremarkable swag
You are going to have a big chance to get your company brand and name out there. How do you want it to be remembered? Do you want it to be forgotten a week after the conference when the attendee is cleaning out his or her travel bags and asks, "why did I grab that?!??!" So, how can you avoid this scenario? Pens, shirts, squeeze balls (for the kids), and candy are always winners. But, something that will stick will be flash drives and phone chargers with your name on it. Just a suggestion.
See you in two months in DC.