Midnight the night before the conference: Thoughts racing around my head: “What was I thinking when I suggested that we exhibit at the 2014 Corporate Researchers Conference?” “What do I know about manning a booth?” While selling research is definitely in my job description, I prefer to focus on what people need rather than trying to sell them something – “will I seem too sales-y?”…and on and on, until finally sleep came to save me from my own thoughts.
Morning of Day 1: Things always seem better in the morning light. I woke up determined to create a paradigm shift and, not sure where to begin, I decided to start by looking up the definition of “exhibit”:
To explain, to place on show, to make known
After giving this some thought, I realized that placing RTi on show to make known what we do and why our offering is different and valuable is not diametrically opposed to focusing on what people need. In order to manifest this, my plan became to focus first on making people feel welcome and comfortable, encouraging them to talk about their needs, and then “making known” how RTi can help them reach their goals.
Evening of Day 1: Today I had the opportunity to meet a lot of really great people who work in our industry. Almost everyone was eager to talk about what they do and the challenges they face; and most were interested in learning about RTi. I knew it would be easy to welcome people and listen to them, but to my surprise it also turned out to be quite easy to talk with prospective clients about our company without feeling like I was “giving a sales pitch”; probably because I strongly believe that what we offer is unique and highly valuable.
Evening of Day 2: Another day spent meeting and connecting with new people – dare I say that this has actually turned out to be fun!
Post Conference Musings: Now that our first major conference exhibition experience is over, I feel confident that it will prove to have been a worthwhile investment of time and resources. There are many potential clients with whom we will follow-up – some requested that we send information about a specific capability; others expressed general interest in learning more about RTi. And when we get our first new project from a client we met at our CRC booth, we will have proven the truth of this quote:
“You cannot score a goal when you are sitting on the bench.
To do so, you have to dress up and enter the game.” – Israelmore Ayivor