Fall Involvement Fair - The Second Most Important Event of the Year
The most important event for your student group every year is electing officers for the next year. But the second most important event of the year for your student group is the fall involvement fair. These events are typically held the week that classes start (or sometimes the week before). They are attended by almost all freshmen and lots of returning students as well. Having a table at these fairs is the single best recruiting opportunity you'll have for your group all year. Here I'll suggest some very simple goals to focus on to make the most out of your involvement fair.
Your Two Key Goals
There are two essential goals for your involvement fair table. Everything else is just bells and whistles. In order of importance the goals are:
#1 - Get Their Info
Get the names and email addresses of as many interested students as possible. It's important to get your name out to students, but it's far more important to get the names (and most importantly, email addresses) of interested students. If you only give them your contact information, then you are leaving the future of your relationship completely up to them. You want to be able to email them about your events. To get these addresses all you need is sheet of paper with a column for their name and a column for their email address.
Don't clutter the sheet with spaces for mailing address or phone number. It's very unlikely you're going to send them anything in the mail or call them. You're much more likely to email them. Of course, for this to work you need to have an announcement listserv. If you don't have one, ask us and we can help you set one up.
#2 - Give Them Your Info
Get something physical with your group name and web address on it into the hands of as many interested students as possible. This physical thing can be a
- flyer for your first meeting of the year
- a business card (We can make them for you - contact us!)
- a brochure
- a keychain
- a lollipop with your name on the stick
- a condom
- anything that fits into your budget and you think will be memorable.
This physical thing with your group name and web address (or just web address if space is that tight) is backup in case they write their email address too sloppily for you to read or you type it in wrong when you're putting the list into your computer. It's also there in case their spam filter deletes your emails.
If you get those two things down at your fall involvement fair table, you're doing great.
Before the Fair:
Register as for a spot at the involvement fair as soon as you can. If you haven't registered yet, go check your school's student activities website and do what it says. If the deadline has already passed, don't underestimate the power of begging. Even if you're told there's no way you can register, you might want to show up anyhow and see if you can have an unclaimed spot.
During the Fair:
- Make eye contact with passers by - they are much more likely to come talk with you, give you their names and email addresses, and take your physical thing with your group name and website on it (you have a website, right?)
- Don't argue. Remember your two key goals: getting email addresses and handing something out. Invite people that want to argue to come to your meetings if they would like to continue the conversation.
- T-shirts, banners, newsletters, etc. are all great to have. Just make sure they don't stand in the way of your two big goals.
- We at the Secular Student Alliance are happy to make custom business cards for your group, send you tabling supplies, and help in whatever way we can. Don't hesitate to contact us.
For more information on tabling, check out the tabling section of our on-line Group Running Guide.
August E. Brunsman IV is the executive director of the Secular Student Alliance.