How to Go From Influencer to Decision-Maker: Why I Am Planning On Visiting the Vendors at #SHRM16

The SHRM national convention will be held in Washington, D.C. this month from June 19 – 22.  I am once again attending as an official blogger.  This is now my fifth year in that role, and it has been fun. I learn a lot, especially in the marketplace.  And, that is why I am planning on visiting the vendors at #SHRM16. If you are going, I recommend you do the same.

People think I am crazy

One of the frustrations many vendors have is that conference attendees don’t come and spend any time talking to them. Granted, they don’t have to make too many “good” contacts to make it worthwhile; but they do spend money, a lot of money, to have a booth. That money makes the price of your attendance much less than it would be without their attendance. For that reason alone, you need to show them some love.

“Yeah, Mike. But, I don’t want to be sold to and, besides, I am not the decision maker.” My question to you is, how will you ever get to be a decision maker if you are not informed? The marketplace is where you become informed about innovations in technology, and you cannot tell me you keep up with that on your own. The marketplace is where you find out about innovations in benefits. I came across one a few years ago in Atlanta that offered an employee car buying benefit. Discounted car buying as a benefit? Yes sir!

The marketplace was where I found out about a program to help companies deal with disabled employees. They had a program, including providing equipment, to help you accommodate disabled employees. They had the expertise and did the case management. This certainly goes a long way to complying with the “interactive discussion” requirement of the ADAAA.

The marketplace was where I found a training company that I ended up partnering with, MindEdge, because they already had a product that offered what I wanted to offer. They kept me from having to create the content myself. What a time saver.

To advance you need to know

When you attend a conference, you are there to learn. The sessions this year look spectacular. My schedule is full. I will learn things to help keep my clients informed. That is what you are there to do as well, with your “clients” being your management team. This ability to inform and identify trends is probably the best reason to visit the marketplace. Yes, I understand you are not the “buyer” in most cases; but you can be the “influencer”. So gather information, learn new technologies and be prepared to report on what you saw and learned. By being a forward-thinking “influencer,” you will be more likely to one day be a forward-thinking decision-maker.

A final reason to visit the marketplace

In one word the last reason to visit the marketplace is SWAG. The vendors have a ready supply of gizmos, pens, toys and more to hand out. They also have some great gifts. I always do some collecting for my granddaughter and for myself. I love creative pens. I got some pens that light up last year that have come in very handy in dark rooms, dark cars and dark bars.

Some people get absolutely nuts about the swag.  Don’t be one of those people. If you are going to take something from a vendor, make sure to spend some time talking to them. You never know what you will learn.

So, if you are attending, show the vendors some love.  And, if you happen to see me, say hello.




For more information and to attend SHRM 2016 Annual Conference & Exposition, visit



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