How to go from Influencer to decision-maker: Why I am planning on visiting the vendors at SHRM 2013

by Michael Haberman on June 6, 2013 · 2 comments


Vendors help pay your way and provide valuable information to help advance your career.

Vendors help pay your way and provide valuable information to help advance your career.

The SHRM national convention will be held in Chicago this month on June 16th through the 19thI am attending as an official blogger which makes me “Press”. I feel a bit funny with that title but I did it last year in Atlanta as well. It was fun, I learned a lot, especially in the marketplace and that is why I am planning of visiting the vendors at SHRM 2013. 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 on that on your own. The marketplace is where you find out about innovations in benefits. I came across one last year 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.

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

Chicago here I come.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Bill Ramsey June 6, 2013 at 10:31 am

I’ve heard you preach this sermon before, but this is the most persuasively I’ve heard it. Very well done. Let me make the case more adamantly:



I tell my kids repeatedly, “Don’t give me a problem, give me a solution.” Even if it’s not a viable solution, I expect to hear that they’ve tried thinking through the issue. Do Executives expect anything less? Rewording what you wrote, Mike: Vendors educate the Influencer, who then introduces solutions to the Executive’s problems.

What a shame that so many HR Professionals don’t cultivate a short list of trusted advisers feeding them solutions. The Vendor’s Fair is a fantastic place to start.


Michael Haberman June 6, 2013 at 10:59 am

Thanks for the response. I love the statement VENDORS/SALESPERSONS ARE THE DOOR THROUGH WHICH “INFLUENCERS” PASS TO BECOME “DECISION MAKERS.” And your rewording is very correct and much better said than my effort. Every HR person needs a group of trusted advisors, outside of their own organization, that will keep them informed.


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