You have finished a full day of programming, logged a few certification hours and have seen a few old friends. Now you face the dreaded task of braving the Exhibitor Hall. Your only goal: grab a bag full of logo-ed schwag for your teenager; because kids love squishy cows and stuffed animals.
You are greeted by a manic energy you never thought possible. People in uniforms throw a badge scanner in your face and rapid fire questions about a service that might not be applicable to your organizational role. After 7 minutes of furrowed brow conversation you are given the cow and sent off into the wild...knowing full well that someone has your email address and will be stalking you to buy a non-applicable product or service.
I GET IT!
I hate the word 'vendor'; it is so objective....but in most cases the punishment fits the crime. I am also the first to admit that most 'booth teams' do not have an exhibitor strategy that promotes anything more than scan the badge, get their contact info and get our logo into the hands of your 12 year old (because they have decision making power).
DON'T HATE THE PLAYER, HATE THE GAME!
Guess what....it is not my favorite thing to stand on my feet for 12 hours engaging in awkward conversation. I love missing my daughter's first visit to Disneyland to wear an uncomfortable shirt and hand out fliers. Getting doors slammed in my face, being hung up upon and receiving email responses offering to contact the authorities if I keep stalking you is a way of life for me; but it is still a little defeating every time it happens.
Yes, the people in the bright shirts have kids just like you, they may very well read the same books that you do or sit next to you in church. Shame on them for not engaging you in conversation accordingly. This might sound completely bizarre, but 'vendors' like working with people who appreciate them. The best business relationships involve Friday night brain storming sessions while our daughters have dance recitals, Saturday morning project strategy meetings while our sons play in the little league championship and/or a Tuesday evening call to extend our condolences for a business partner's personal tragedy. We are willing to climb mountains for you if the aforementioned sacrifices come with two words: Thank You!
VENDORS ARE PEOPLE TOO!
So in the midst of the Exhibit Hall madness...I met my hero. I did not scan her badge or give her a magnet. I gave her a hug and told her how honored I was to finally be in her presence. She is even more lovely in person than she is online. If I leave San Diego without the emails of people who hate me and a empty bag of schwag, at least I added another friendly face to my motivational rolodex....to keep me going when someone slams a door in my face.
And to my daughter Marley - Sorry I didn't get to meet Snow White with you....I assure you my time away will serve our family well!
Don't Forget to Remember!