Tabling events give staff an excuse to get out of the office for the day. Sure, they get a chance to enjoy the spring weather and share the organization’s mission. But if the only goal is to hang your banner and be present, it’s a waste of time. You have to work it to make it productive.
The results vary greatly, as one of my clients recently found out. Jen’s organization was invited to have a table during a lunchtime event at a major community employer’s worksite. She sat at the booth with the hope of recruiting participants for the upcoming Walk event and perhaps a couple volunteers to join the committee. While she felt like she raises awareness for the Walk, she didn’t leave with any solid commitments or leads. She did this twice with the same result.
Then, she tried something new. Instead of just sitting at the booth, she invited a committed employee of the company and five volunteers (who happened to be police officers) to hang out and engage with people. They struck up conversation, talked about the impact participation makes on the mission and invited them to participate. The result: 32 walkers registered on the spot, with interest from many others. The company is also interested in working on a year-round partnership! With a little effort you can go from just being present to recruiting supporters and launching people into action!
The difference: Jen asked volunteers to help. She mobilized people who already believe in the mission. In the course of small talk, they were able to share their stories with prospective participants. She coached the volunteers so they knew what needed to be accomplished. My point is: it doesn’t always need to be staff at the table! In fact, as you can see, volunteers can be way more effective. Engaged volunteers can produce great results. With a little training, clear messaging and carefully outlined goals they’ll be off and running. This added manpower enables the organization to have a presence at the event while staff works on other pressing projects.
So next time your organization gets invited to a tabling event, don’t just sit there – do something! Look at it as an opportunity for recruitment and engagement. Enlist your volunteers to help. Train them. Give them the tools they need to get it done. And send them out. The results may just pleasantly surprise you!