I’m spending the weekend tabling at a hackathon for my company, so I’m thinking a lot about tabling right now and how to do it right.
The common script for an interaction between an event sponsor/exhibitor and attendee is as follows:
“ATTENDEE: What do you do?”
“EXHIBITOR: This is what we do. Want to buy/work for us/sign this petition?”
In short, most exhibitor-attendee interactions are aimed to be purely transactional. And with certain lead goals to meet from an event, it seems natural that you would try to cut to the chase when talking to someone who stops by.
The only problem is that many people at an event aren’t really ready to transact with your company, or even to really *care* about what you do. You’re probably a lot earlier in the lead lifecycle with them than you assume.
Increasingly I enjoy breaking the common script and going off-book in a few ways.
1) I take the initiative to provide value. When people come to me, *I* ask the questions. I express curiosity, and I give the gift of attention
2) I don’t talk about my company unless asked. I talk about them and their interests, what brought them to the conference. etc.
3) I don’t limit myself topically. I talked to a guy tonight about Marvel and economics. He’ll probably remember our conversation better than the one with the generic front-end developers at other tables.
If I get a visitor off the script, the whole interaction is so much more valuable.
Because repeating a script and hearing a script repeated back to you isn’t memorable at all. But leaving room for natural conversation and serendipity – that can go a long way.