On the SLA/Special Libraries Association annual conference website, Sara Batts and Liz Blankson-Hemans provide helpful hints on how conference attendees can best approach and talk to exhibitors. Without exhibitors paying to be part of this and related conferences, these events would be considerably scaled-down affairs.
One of the biggest revelations for me during my reduced schedule at the recent conference in Chicago was the opportunity to meet, learn from and network with top executives from vendors/exhibitors at the INFO-EXPO hall. Even though I am not in a position to buy any of their products or services, I had great impromptu conversations with a number of high-level people from a variety of companies, including Chris Hote, CEO-USA of Digimind, Jack W. Plunkett, CEO & Publisher of Plunkett Research, Ltd., Elisa Manzotti, Publisher of Future Science Group; and three executives from Aurora WDC: Founder & Chairman Arik Johnson, Director of Program Development Michel Bernaiche and Chief Learning Officer Dr. Craig Fleisher. The latter was also moderator of a terrific panel, Cross-Cultural Competitive Intelligence, and Aurora WDC sponsored several CI-related events at the conference. Chris Hote was a speaker at another highly-interesting session on CI, The Intelligence Café.
I imagine that there were other high-ranking people at some of the many other booths in the hall. And there were lots of opportunities to learn about new products and services, eat and drink, watch demonstrations and participate in raffles in the hall’s free-wheeling, welcoming atmosphere. A number of companies had free samples of their publications daily, such as The Financial Times, Dow Jones (Wall Street Journal) and Information Today.
It’s true that all of these companies and executives participate because they want to market their products and services. But they are also generous with their time, resources and talents-and deserve our gratitude.

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