Convention Idea – Have Business Owners speak

The roundup of ideas for adding more professional events to conventions is here.

Want someone to speak about careers and opportunities at your convention?  Sure you can hope to get some of the big names to speak, get that oddball guest, arrange seminars . . . but you may be missing a great source of professional panelists.

People who already have fannish businesses.  Take a look at your Dealer's Room or Artists' Alley and youll find there's a huge amount of potential speakers on careers, options, and that often-talked of but hard-to-speak on subject of starting your own business.

Career ambition doesn't have to mean working for someone else.  And, yes, at times I see people with fannish businesses invited to speak on such things at conventions – but I think it could go way farther.

The guy whose been running a comic shop for fifteen years has a lot of insights.  The Artists Alley freelancer who manages to survive on her art is going to have knowledge to share few others will.  The couple who runs an anime memorabilia shop out of a warehouse with a tiny storefront is going to have a lot to speak on.

It doesn't even have to be someone whose living on it full time (though I would certainly make sure to try and get such people).  You may have a lot of budding talent, or people who have managed to mix their fannish and non-fannish work, who can speak and lecture on skills, career issues, experience, etc.  They don't have to have "arrived" at doing full-time fannish work to be people with things to share.

Finally, keep inviting such people back.  As their side businesses and personal businesses evolve, they can share more and more insights.

Your next big career panel may mean raiding your Dealer's room.  Go for it.

– Steven Savage