Today, I had the opportunity to represent IAAP and the DE-MD-DC Division at the Office Depot Success Strategies for Women Conference, along with my chapter, President., Pat. The conference was focused at small businesses and women-owned businesses.
We had a display, a table WAY back in corner at the bottom of the stairs and loads of stuff from HQ, our own chapter and materials that the Baltimore Chapter provided. It was, I’m sure, a much longer day for her.. as I only stayed until 12:30. But in the short space of 3.5 hours, I learned so much.
Lessons learned when representing your firm, or in this case IAAP at an expo or event.
- Know your attendees. What about their business ties into IAAP?
- Know your firm/or in this case.. IAAP. – Many folks had never heard of IAAP… but once Pat started talking.. she made a very convincing case for the important -front door- role that many admins play for vendors… either in allowing them in, or keeping them out!
- Eat first. I admit.. I ran late.. and man, I did not have enough food in my tummy. It’s hard to focus on visitors if the table across from you is holding the bagels and you haven’t eaten. Trust me.. the visitors can tell.
- Be clear and consistent about the message. Why you are there;what your company’s role is in the conference; what benefit can your company offer visitors
- BUSINESS CARDS! I cannot tell you how vital this is. So many folks did not have enough cards. How can you network without them.? The IAAP HQ Website (www.iaap-hq.org) has a template for members to create their own card. So even if you don’t have a company card, (many companies do not provide them for their administrative staff) you’ll still have a professional contact card to provide.
- Listen. Listen to the people who stop at your booth… If they’ve taken the time to stop and ask questions, don’t try to pre-empt them or guess where they are going. Not all visitors today were looking for admin support, though many of our chapters have job boards, and so does International. Many of these entrepreneurs wanted to know how Admins communicated and referred business;they wanted to know about Associate membership and how it could benefit their company.
- Never commit to a dinner or social event the night of staffing a conference booth. I promise.. you won’t be good company and the first thing on your mind will be getting HOME! I made this mistake today..and I am paying for it! Man! My feet are killing me and I didn’t even work the whole day!
- Lastly, take good notes on the business cards handed to you and regarding potential marketing for your company. Make a brief report and email it to relevant folks about why it was a benefit for you to go and how your company could gain business or gather educational information.
I’m beat.. but I wanted to share my thoughts quickly before I fall into bed…