What Do You Expect From a Name Badge?

No matter what you or I do for a living there is always a convention, summit, conference, or workshop… or better yet…a heap of them, that will “better equip us” to do our job. Such is the case in my media, marketing and communication world. My question to you is: When you check in at the event registration, are they handing you a name badge that will get you access to what you expect or even want?

On my mind is a recent event inside the always buzzy world of Social Media here in the Twin Cities…but it could be any industry focused event.

Following an event to kick off a Reputations program featuring Social Media rock star Chris Brogan I noted a few comments in the social media stream (Twitter and Youtube) expressing a level of frustration with the event. No, I did not attend the event…though I know many who did.

The nature of the comments revolved around hearing the same message and seeing the same people at every event.

A blog post noted “the local social media faithful arrived to hear from one of its titans”, “social media is having a hard time growing up” and “There were few if any major company executives in the room yesterday. This is the non-existent elephant in the room.” The point being that there were plenty of people who believe and “get” the social media opportunities in attendance, but few if any who need to “get” it.

I also came across a video posted on YouTube a notes seeing “a lot of the same faces”, “I knew 50-60% of the people here already” as well as “it’s the same group of people getting recycled information.”

I’ve heard this from others too. Heck, I even noted an “echo chamber” existing here myself some months back.

Whether an echo chamber exists or not, my question is: What are you expecting when you go to an event? If someone wants to evangelize social media to non-social media actives, events like this one may not necessarily be the place to do it. The term “preaching to the choir” comes to mind.

If you’re in the social media biz, you know Chris Brogan. In this case, I’m sure the event delivered what was billed: “gather leaders and experts on the topic of building, managing and protecting reputations.” and “to bring local and national thought leaders together to discuss the intangibles around reputation.” Perhaps they fell short on delivering enough of those “business owners and key decision-makers in Minnesota-based companies” event organizers hoped “to inform, educate and inspire”. But don’t complain about the message.

I’m sure information about social media, social media marketing, case studies and everything else associated with it was delivered by a successful, likable, and sincere authority with the added cache of people knowing who he is.

Perhaps, Social Media “faithful”, you were in the wrong place! The many events that continue to deliver this social media message are doing just that, many quite well. You could approach it like Robyn pointed out in her comments on the YouTube video, “I still learn alot from my peers here, and almost always walk away having gained some value or new contact.” or not…but don’t expect these events to whip potential clients into a frenzy so you can swoop in at the post event cocktail party and sell them your or your company’s services. I’m pretty sure it’s more work than that.

If it’s your expectation is to spread the word to those that haven’t heard it, don’t go to an event that has people like you. Hunt where the ducks are and concentrate on choosing events that deliver who you want to reach. Or if you go to an event that appeals to you, maybe bring your own ducks! In this case how about taking those potential clients to the event.

In any business, profession or practice, there is plenty of opportunity to hear the same message again and again. Your choices will always be listen, don’t listen, or say something new!

Take a look at the next event. Why are you going? Will you hear something new? Can you add something new? Does it have a chance to meet your expectations?

You are only operating in an echo chamber if you choose to enter it.