At big events you'll have an ID hanging from your neck. Slap a button your shirt. People are looking.

Self-promotion is an art form. It's more than just getting out of your lazy comfort bubble, though that's definitely part of it. You've got to be genuinely and authentically you. Bleh. That's a whole lot of warm-and-fuzzy psychobabble.

But here's the thing. When people say "just be you" what they actually mean is turn into Freakazoid. No, just kidding (although that guy's hilarious, and there is something to be said for being the extreme version of you at events). What they actually mean is be at ease and be comfortable with everything you say or do. You'll just come across untrustworthy or sleazy if you're not, right? That's the last thing you want.

Why are we talking about self-image and the way you present yourself? Because you're a glasses-wearing loser with no interpersonal skills. Haha! What? Not funny?

Fine, sorry to hurt your precious ego. So let's get to the point. The point is that, as you are around and about promoting yourself, you need to realize that you are the product. No, no one's going to buy, sell or trade you (unless you're a professional athlete). How you present yourself is how others are going to remember your business or company. Ha! I knew there was moral to be salvaged from this rambling.

So, it's time to get down to brass tacks. Here's how to sell yourself using your buttons at big events. Let's go big!

Create Eye-Catching Designs

It all starts with an awesome, good-looking product. But you knew that already, didn't you, oh loyal reader?

Look, your buttons aren't going to make for good conversation pieces unless they're cool as ice (but not Vanilla Ice, please). You should also make sure that the quality of the product is solid. If it's falling apart or tearing a hole in your shirt, you might be exposed to an unintentional form of self-promotion (get it?).

Wear Your Buttons

This one's a no-brainer. The most basic way to self-promote with buttons is to actually wear them. It shows that you actually stand behind your own business and services or products. But don't literally stand behind your place of business or products. If you did that, no one would be able to see you. And we're also concerned for your mental health.

"Why didn't John show up at the big event?"

"He was standing behind his business."

Heh heh heh. I crack me up. So, as easy as it is, unless you actually meet people and talk with them long enough for them to stare at your chest swag, this tactic is going to be about as useful as a handbrake on a paddling canoe. Don't be pushy or sleazy, but don't be afraid to mount the conversation like a stallion (I have no idea what that means) and ask leading questions too. The person asking questions is always in control of the conversation.

Give Away Your Buttons

People love free stuff, regardless of what it is (okay, a used diaper isn't particularly appealing or useful). They'll decide whether or not to hold onto it later. While they're at a big event, they're in collect mode, and they will take just about anything and everything you hand to them.

Instead of taking aim and sniping people in the head with your buttons, here too, it's important to develop personal contact and relationship. Yeah, you might have a few opportunities to throw some in the crowd, but what people are going to remember is how you flirted made the effort to connect with them. So think of it more as a business card than free merch.

Sell Your Buttons

So it may seem like we're treading a lot of obvious territory here, but cool buttons are sure to be picked up by people who like what you have to say, what you represent or what you have to offer. Selling stuff puts money back in your pocket, too. Cool, right?

But really the best part is when your customers become walking and talking advertisements for you. When they wear your stuff, more people are going to see it. When they talk about the positive experience they had with you (you are serving your customers well, aren't you?), more Lemmings people are going to want to check you out, and not just your svelte figure or chiseled butt either. Buns o' steel!


Big events can feel intimidating, like everyone is on their own and out for themselves. That might be true to a degree, but if you can strike up some meaningful partnerships with others who are there to do the same as you (promote themselves, not scope out the opposite gender) there could be added value to both sides.

It's like Batman & Robin. One is cool, and the other's just a colorful sidekick. So partner up with the Robins of this world and make like a Batman.

But seriously, figure out how you can make some allies and come up with ideas that work (wear each other's buttons, etc.).

VIP Room

If you've got a spacious booth or promotional tent, why not make a VIP room for your guests? The cost of entry? A button. Just make sure the special room delivers everyone's deepest desires. Make the VIP room experience one to remember, and your guests won't want to take those buttons off for the remainder of the event (see note about walking advertisements).

This is very similar to building an "exclusive club", which might be another angle to explore. If you can make others feel like they're a part of a special movement (and there's a cost of entry or referral system), more people will want to join in on the fun.

Are you ready for the next big event? What scams strategies have you devised for your next appearance? Leave a comment, smartypants!

Image by decoded conference

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