Lessons from a conference

I have returned from a two day conference in Melbourne. I often dread conferences but they usually turn out pretty good once I get there and start to engage with other attendees. This particular conference attracts some very interesting speakers and attendees in a friendly open atmosphere. What really surprised me was the activity of the vendors who had ‘stands’ at the conference. All of the stands looked great with the requisite fancy background, a small desk with little gifts and one or two monitors showing loops of product demonstrations or other marketing messages. There was nothing wrong with the stands. What really surprised me was the behaviour of some of the humans inhabiting these stands. There were a few that adopted a friendly outgoing approach by adopting an open body language, smile and standing in front of the ‘stand.’ These people would typically walk around and mix with attendees and other vendors. Far too many adopted the other approach; sit behind the stand and avoid eye contact with any other human. In these cases it was obvious by traffic numbers that people did not feel comfortable approaching the stand. These vendors would have had the same result sticking a brochure in the ‘goodie bag’ and save themselves the bucket of money it costs to have a ‘stand.’ It is really the same in any social environment; you get what you give.

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