5 Tips for Conquering the Exhibits Hall

by Leigh Milligan, Head Editor, INALJ Pennsylvania

5 Tips for Conquering the Exhibits Hall

leigh.milliganSince its conference season and there are a lot of great conferences coming up such as ALA Annual, SLA’s conference and many others, I figured I would do another conference tips article since my last one Ten Conference Tips for a First Timer was so successful. In this blog post, I am going to give you tips on how to conquer: The Exhibits Hall.

I decided to write this post because I noticed there were many conference tips articles on what do at a conference, but not much specifically on the exhibits hall, so here it goes.

1. Have a plan for the navigating the exhibits hall– Exhibits halls at conferences are very overwhelming and tend to be crowded. You are not going to be successful if you go into the exhibits hall and wing it. Plan out exactly what vendors you want to visit with first and figure out exactly where they are. Most of the time you can find a floor map and an exhibitor list on the conference website and/or the conference app.

2. Do not grab too much free stuff, I repeat do not grab too much free stuff-This tends to be a common error of conference newbies, the exhibits floor is so overwhelming, and so many free books, and pins, posters, arcs, bookmarks, oh my! But before you grab it all, ask yourself, would I take this if it were not free? Also ask yourself, how would this be resourceful to my library? If after answering those questions, you don’t grab the free item, that’s ok! It will save you time, space and a broken back.

3. Take advantage of the post office– Most conferences such as ALA, have a post office at the conference, so you can mail anything you can at a conference. This can also save time and space since when leaving the conference, you will have luggage to worry about, if you are in from out of town. Only catch to this is, it can be costly depending on how much you plan to send back and where you are located. Also, don’t go on the last day of the conference, tends to be crowded.

4. Network with the Representatives at the Booths– Have your business cards ready and talk with the representatives at the booths. Introduce yourself to the vendors you already use Have your 30 second speech ready as I mentioned in my conference article. Use an icebreaker such as What’s New to start a conversation, and the vendor can tell you all about their new services and products. Networking with vendors is very important as it can help you get new product for your library or it can make a connection that could be helpful to you in your future, such a lead for a job or a blogging opportunity.

5. Don’t forget to have fun! You might be caught up in the stress of conference going and getting from presentation to presentation that you forget to have fun! The exhibits hall is a great time! It’s a great place to learn and share and collaborate on ideas with others in the field whether they are publishers, vendors or even librarians. Take this time to visit the different booths, find out about the new promotions and bring something new and useful back to your library!

Here’s some further reading about the exhibits hall:

Tips for Talking to Exhibitors by SLA

Walking the Exhibit Hall Like a Pro

Navigating the Exhibits Hall: A User’s Guide for Beginners