Convention Idea – Involve your attendees

The continuing series on ways to add career elements to convention is here.

Putting career oriented elements in a convention is challenging.  There's time, equipment, and of course – guests.  Finding someone to speak on voice acting, graphic arts, publishing, and more means taking time away from other activities guests can do – and possibly sinking your plans for career panels.  You can't get everyone you want to do all the career events you want.

Turn to your attendees.  I've seen this done with great success.

Of your attendees, no small amount of them are probably involved in professions and careers that the rest of the attendees would be interested in.  You've probably got a huge amount of potential "guests" right there, or at least panelists who can get a discount on their membership.

Many conventions do this, but I'd advise going one step further and actively engaging people.  Find out who's attending with particular skills and backgrounds.  Ask them at the dead dog party.  Put posts in your forums.  See what you've got.

I've found attendee-run panels like this can be great successes because the pool of potential people can be huge – you can find all sorts of interesting experiences, specialized skills, and more.  Most people will jump at the chance to help out at a convention anyway.

Over time, I'd recommend building a list of potential "attendee contributors."  Court them, keep up with them, engage them.  They can provide you great panels and events, and help out in other ways.

– Steven Savage