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Matthew Hill's Articles

Working with your Millennial Exhibit Staff


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Do you have Millennials as part of your exhibit staff?

They can be great staffers and make your trade shows successful or they can be horrible and drag everyone down and frustrate you to no end. Like any other generation, they have their strengths and weaknesses. So let’s dive right into how to work most effectively with your Millennial Exhibit Staff. And all of this info is from our live training workshop, “Managing Your Millennial Exhibit Staff” that we delivered at the ExhibitorLIVE! conference in March, 2015/2016.

Take Advantage of Their Strengths

Collaboration: Millennials are great collaborators. They like to work in groups and with their friends. Millennials work productively with people they click with. Like their friends and friends of friends. They stay motivated and interested when the work is more social. Set specific goals, objectives, time frames, and boundaries, and their collaborative skills will result in amazing results.

Technology. One of the greatest strengths of the Millennials is their sound knowledge of technology. This can be a serious asset at a trade show because of Social Media, emailing, texting, etc.

Multitasking. Millennials are doing multiple things at the same time; they’re on the phone, texting, and working on a computer. Even though some recent studies have shown that multitasking results in a drop in productivity, Millennials seem very adept. Trade show managers should feel free to give Millennials multiple tasks and concurrent responsibilities - this really fits with the frantic pace of some trade shows.

Challenge them. Millennials thrive on learning opportunities. They want work they can learn from otherwise they are quickly bored. A willingness to try new things is one of their strengths - so challenge them. As the trade show manager you need to explain that not all of the work at a show is going to be new and exciting but it all makes a difference.

Understand and Manage Their Weaknesses

    •       Casual approach to authority.

  •      Not understanding seemingly arbitrary rules and regulations.

  •      Texting and emailing all of the time.

  •      Expect a constant stream of feedback.

  •      Use of casual language.

  •      Rationale or reason for every assignment or request.

Communication Tips for Trade Show Managers

1.   Communicate frequently but be brief and to the point.

2.   If the communication isn’t quick and to-the-point - even flashy - it won’t hold the Millennials’ attention.

3.   Take time to first explain issues, then repeat the message.

4.   Repeat messages through different communication channels; text, talk, email.

Recruiting Millennials For Your Exhibit Staff

 Communicate what’s in it for them as a part of an exhibit staff:

•       Getting out of the office.

•       Traveling to somewhere new and maybe fun.

•       Reimbursed travel expenses.

•       Learning more about the business.

•       Meeting new people.

•       Working with other colleagues.

•       Advancing their careers.

•       Working with their work friends.

What traits to look for:

•       Extensive product/service/company knowledge.

•       Socially proactive.

•       Positive attitude.

•       Team player. 

Before the show

1.  Provide live training - trade shows are live events.

2.  Provide follow-up online training.

3.  Focus the training on:

•       Professional behavior; being on time, in-booth etiquette, etc.

•       Greeting and qualifying visitors quickly and politely.

•       Generating high quality leads.

4.   Have them do some role-playing in the booth before the show opens.

5.   Keep communicating. Millennials like lots of communication with their friends, co-workers, and the exhibit team. For trade shows, it will help build a sense of community and teamwork.

6.   Encourage two-way communication by asking for suggestions or preferences. Setting the precedent for regular communication before the show will encourage it to continue during and after the show.

7.     Motivate your Millennial exhibit staff before the show by communicating with them about:

•       The expected results of positive visitor and exhibit staff experiences

•       How their efforts will help move the business forward through qualified lead generation

•       That working in the booth will expose them to new experiences and new people.

•       How the skills they will be taught to work effectively in the exhibit booth will help them with their careers. 

During the show

1.    Millennials work well in teams. When the booth isn’t too busy, they can join their colleagues and work very effectively as team as they talk to visitors. Their shared knowledge and social ease in these small group settings lead to successful visitor engagements.

2.    The trade show manager can facilitate the building of their trade show team by making time for the Millennial staffers, and others, to socialize together, have drinks together, etc. Once they bond, they will have each others’ backs, help each other, and support each other - and all of this will continue in the booth during the show.

3.   When the booth is busy, Millennials can more easily move conversations from a one-on-one style to one-to-many style. They are less to be intimidated or hesitant about traditional social or conversational protocols.

4.     Frequent in-booth communication by having quick conversations should be encouraged.

5.     Even though Millennials are expert texters and are very fast at it, they should not be using their mobile devices in the booth.

6.     Millennials like feedback and updates during the show. These can be quick conversations, texts, or emails.

7.     Offer constructive feedback to each staffer during the show. Millennials or not, this is always a good idea. If you do not have time to do this consistently, have another person in authority working the booth do it.

8.     Recognize productive behavior and reward it. The reward does not have to be big maybe just some Starbucks gift cards.

9.     Send daily emails before and/or after each day of the show detailing:

•       Latest lead counts and how close it is to the goal

•       Your observations of what’s working

•       Suggestions for improvement

•       Any feedback from the home office

•       Housekeeping items 

After the show

Keep Communicating

1.     Ask for feedback by sending out a survey.

•       Was the show a good use of the company’s resources?

•       What they learned?

•       Ask them for one thing they would change next time.

2.     Share results

•       Lead generation - and anything else you can count.

•       Buzz created

•       Success of new product or service introductions

•       Anything else

3.     Ask them if they would want to work at a trade show again.

 

© 2016 by Matthew Hhill