Beyond Client-Vendor Relationships - Creating ACTUAL Relationships and Why We Don't Regularly Attend Conferences
Evade and Avoid
It's terrible how many people absolutely avoid vendors like the plague. As if they are all making empty promises and stealing from unsuspecting victims.
But I can't say I don't understand it.
I don't blame the educators that rush by, avoiding eye contact, pretending to be on your phone, and quickening your pace just to get past a long mess of vendor squares, jetting past fake-ly-excited men and women in business suits, all with a plethora of gadgets spread in front of them, wanting to show you the next big thing that you can't live without.
Don't forget the giveaways - pens, candy, business cards, etc., are sure to help ensure that you remember our names and will inspire you to act on it.
We've all been through it. Even we "vendors" can't stand vendor fairs. Which is probably why we decided NOT to go to ISTE. And I would have loved to go. But we were too late to try to get in as a speaker, or to hold our own program - trust me, we will be planning far in advance for future conferences - so why would we want to get a 10 x 10 ft. box to speak to thousands of people for 30 seconds each? Sure, I guess our name gets out there, but there's more to it than that.
Exposure is great, but being tagged as a 'vendor' isn't exactly the best image to leave. We have a lot to share, and a vendor booth won't let us do that. The real reason I AM a champion of conferences like ISTE because is gives me a chance to meet those people I've established strong relationships with through Twitter [ or my PLN, even though I'm not an educator ], not to be stuck among all other 'vendors.'
Don't Call Me 'Vendor' and I won't call you 'Client'
Standing behind a vendor table, setting up vendor things, making vendor-like conversation is my worst nightmare. My goal in conferences is to really establish a few legitimate relationships with people, where we have an actual conversation and not the vendor 'word vomit' that pours out in the 2.5 seconds when I have 1 tenth of a person's attention as they rush on past my 'vendor' booth, hurrying past the next like there's a fire chasing after them. My stance is to make that relationship last past the 3 days of the conference, and to create something from it.
That's why we're not at every conference just to occupy a vendor booth. We want to become people. We want to become individuals. And sometimes, we can do that better from right here in Lawrence, KS.
With social media, it's easy to create conversations. To get to know other educators. To expand on the educators we communicate with. To share ideas, to collaborate, and to learn from our clients. That's another word we have a lot of trouble with - 'clients'. There's so much negative connotation with the words 'client-vendor-relationship.' A CVR is really when one is always trying to 'get' something out of the other. But the best relationships are when goals and desires are common; creating something
But our goal, above all, is to create true, trusting, long-lasting relationships. Our goal is to create and participate in conversations, as we've done with ContentM for Educators Webinars, or recent conversations about social media mashups for universities. We've created new product offerings because of the conversations I've had with educators, designed to meet the needs we've identified together.
We're willing to invest toward those educators willing to enhance education and to take a risk. Where a partnership is truly a collaboration. Where there is synergy.