Working a Convention Tips for Introverts
Because you are an introvert, you can work long hours developing something without being distracted by the need for human approval. This may be a comic book, a music single or album, an app, website or other technology, a book, a film, or other work of creation. Hooray for you!
However, there may come a time when you will have to physically attend large scale conventions to sell your product or promote your company or service. This can be exhausting, emotionally draining, and something you may regret yourself afterwards for "not doing enough" or perhaps over-extending yourself. This hub will focus on tips you can use to mentally and physically prepare yourself for selling yourself at the convention for long hours over a week or weekend.
I am writing this by looking back at working a booth at C2E2 2013 in Chicago, IL, USA and what I should have done better. For the scale, I worked this booth three days in a row to an estimated 53,000 people walking by on the McCormick Center expo floor, which is a change from working and often being by myself.
BUT I HAD AN AWESOME TIME!
Take care of yourself
Sleep Days Before
Diet Days Before
avoid as much caffeine
hydrate with types of waters
news -> later
watch old TV you like
eat celery, high water plants
tell yourself good things
take walks, go to bed early
celebration drinks-> afterwards
you got this topic, not people
feel good about your prep work
don't skip breakfast
While you feel awesome...
You are probably attending a convention that you like the subject matter of. Even if you are shy, you can probably talk to strangers about the subject matter for long periods of time. Whether it is technology, media, live music or related, you probably dig it which is why you make it. However, your initial fanboi-ism is going to wear off and you will become emotionally drained after hours of people no matter the subject matter, so keep aware of this going in.
While you are feeling awesome, stay at your booth and engage people. The people are coming to see cool stuff, and hopefully you have cool stuff, so they are coming to see you, not laugh at you. You have what they want, so don't be afraid of them. I didn't schedule breaks, I just took them when I felt it slow down and I was feeling exhausted.
Emotionally plan for the heavy times, such as afternoons on the weekends or after 5pm on weekdays. These are going to be the times you are going to have to be there on top of your game.
If initially you feel overwhelmed by all the people and the massive scale, take a quick walk around the entire perimeter of the convention. This way, in your mind, you can tell yourself, "Yea, I've seen all this has to offer. I've seen it all and I don't fear anyone here."
Convention attendees make a conscious decision about what they wear to a convention, whether it is a Pieman costume, a funny Pieman t-shirt, or the latest from a particular fashion or designer.
If you can't seem to perfect your opening cold-calling speech, try yelling out the person's costume or T-shirt. Take a picture with them. People love to talk about it, and they might talk to you about your product as well. It probably will turn into a sale faster than gabbing out your product right off the bat.
Make friends with neighbour booths
Recruit someone to help
...and take 15 minute shifts. Two chairs, one person, it will all work out. One person can stand out front and hand out flyers/swag and connect with passersby. The other person can sit down and take the hand-off from the person out front to talk more in depth if needed and convert sales. This person can monitor social media about yourself and your brand as well.
Even if you have to pay this person or recruit a young family member who may not be knowledgeable, it will be worth it for you to keep fresh and ready to bounce up to potential big sales.
Also, make friends with your neighbouring booths. It is a really good thing if you can trust that person to stand at your booth for a bit while you can a rest, help each other set up and take down, or funnel traffic each way.
Eat small multiple meals cooked by Iron Man
Don't live large
Don't schedule a large lunch time, complete with the biggest burger and the biggest cup of pop/soda/beer and all the sides you can eat.
Develop an OCD-like routine for completing a successful connection (sale, positive conversation, etc) with an attendee that you repeat back to each time.
Mine was: rub hands with hand-sanitizer, drink green tea, eat a cracker or two, shake it off, and get back to the next person. This was a great habit that kept me on edge and going throughout the day and I didn't feel like taking a nap.
Don't get distracted
You didn't come to be you
You didn't come to draw, program, practice, write or anything like that. You came to make sure people know about you and you could be better than that company over there just by showing some effort. Just get in a zone; a person walks by, give them your opening line or flyer. If not, just roll over it and try it with the next person coming by. It really will be over before you know it.
Talk about enemies
You've tried, "We're a cloud service provider with excellent service and multiple levels of hosting for those who have liked VPS" and it may not be working on the passersby.
How about sniping "What don't you like about VPS!" at the passersby. Someone might give their opinion, and you can turn that into a conversation.
If you wonder "why doesn't anyone like me", maybe try to figure out what somebody doesn't like, and use that as evidence FOR you.
Don't be ashamed of why you came
You will meet someone that will just keep talking to you. A little later, someone will come up interested in buying your stuff. Tell the talker quickly, "Thanks for your time, I have someone else interested" and ignore them.
Someone will want 4 magnets. Give them one magnet and take the rest away.
Someone is "also in the field" and uses so many buzzwords. Excuse yourself and go talk to some random person to pretend that they are a customer.
Have a list of popular figures who might be at the conference. If someone is bothering you, point quickly and say, "Look, there's ____!" On the other side of that booth!" with a name off the list.
Ask the people why they came, what they came to see, what they like so far, what you have for sale, to buy from you now.
Don't be afraid to ask from them! The meat space is different from online world -- physically ask people to do things. They came to the convention to find the next new thing, not just because they happened to be strolling around.
If you have an opportunity to meet people at a convention, don't just rationalize it by saying, "Well, I can sell online". You will have an easier time just putting on a smile, hugging people, taking pictures and doing the face-to-face thing even if you are shy.
Special, from my heart thanks for this hub go to Onrie Kompan (http://www.yisoonshin.com/home/), Vanessa from Traffick Free and BANP for letting me into this opportunity. It was a great time!