Our team at impress.ai recently had the pleasure of exhibiting a booth as a category partner at the People Matters TechHR 2018 conference. With over 3000 attendees, 150 speakers, and countless HR technology startups from around the globe, this conference was the perfect opportunity to learn, network, and connect with professionals who are passionate about advancing the field of HR technology.
Since this was my first time exhibiting a booth at a conference, I wanted to reflect upon my experience and share key takeaways with the People Matters community, as well as those interested in participating in the event next year.
Here are 5 lessons I learned from TechHR 2018:
Smile and stay positive
With so many booths exhibiting within the same space, it’s normal for most people to walk by, showing little interest in your product. While it’s comfortable to sit behind a desk, this doesn’t come across as the most welcoming experience. I noticed a drastic change once I started standing in front of the booth and simply smiling at people who were walking by. They often reciprocated the smile and were then more likely to stop by our booth. Energy is infectious, and if you’re pumped and positive, your visitor will feel it too.
Make your booth eye-catching, engaging, and give away free swag
When we first arrived, our booth had a great backdrop banner which highlighted our tagline and core benefits. But apart from this, the booth looked pretty plain, just a white table and some chairs. To spruce things up, we set up our LED monitor to play a product video. Having a screen helps because we observed visitors taking notice. We also brought our company banner, extra laptops for demos, and flyers with more information.
Two noteworthy booths were Xoxoday, who had a dart game set up, and offered vouchers for hitting the bullseye as well as ZingHR, who gave away pencils which could be planted to grow into basil and rose. Others that stood out engaged visitors with a wheel of fortune game, a lucky prize draw, and a 3D virtual experience.
Be ready to answer (the difficult) questions about your product
Before the conference, my co-worker and I had practiced giving demos and talking about our product in general. If we were to do the experience again, I’d write down a list of possible questions and answers related to how the technology behind the product works, processes, and integrations. If you’re unsure of how to respond to a visitor’s question, I’d suggest requesting for a business card and writing their question on the back. Then, after the conference send an email addressing their question. It’ll show them you were able to go the extra mile and follow through, as opposed to eluding that you’re unsure of the answer.
Network, network, and then network some more
Buyers aren’t the only ones who are open to connecting. Many of the people at HR tech startups around us were very open to sharing their experiences and giving us advice on how to get the most out of the event and how to improve our product. One key piece of advice that we found most useful was having one person network with people by the entrance, and then invite them to come back to the booth with us for a demo. Drawing people to the booth this way also helped gauge their level of interest.
Follow up with everyone
Most companies that set up booths have the same end goal: finding leads to close business deals. It sounds obvious, but following up with new connections only works if it’s done within a week of meeting them. Since buyers meet tons of other people during the conference, remember to start with a recap of your conversation before going into the next steps to move them further down the marketing funnel.
To make follow-ups effective, write down something specific about your interaction with them on the back of their business card. While the mountain of business cards after the conference initially seemed daunting, I also found it delightful to recall the various interactions and weave them into personalized email follow-ups.
Finally, a huge shout out to People Matters for extending the opportunity for us to be a category partner. Our positive experience would not have been possible without the People Matters team!