Help me get the most out of TED
August 5, 2011 3:20 AM   Subscribe

I accepted an invitation to participate in a TEDx event (in Bristol, England) and I really want to debut my business and my thesis there. What's the best way to do this? Should I bring a card table and a banner? What has worked for you?
posted by parmanparman to Work & Money (6 answers total)
Best answer: Do NOT bring a card table and a banner unless you have explicit permission from event organizers to do so. Those people with tables and banners at events are almost always sponsors of the event who have paid a bunch of money to promote their business at the event.

The purpose of Tedx events are to mingle and network and meet fascinating people. So just be one of those fascinating people. Bring lots of business cards or USB sticks or whatever you have, and walk around and truly talk to people and engage with them in conversation. Go for trying to meet quality over quantity, aim to make them think you're a quality person with an intriguing idea, and who will therefore tell their friends or at least hold onto your card and subsequently check out your website (you should have one.)

If you act like you're there simply as a promoter of your business and your thesis you will be labeled by almost everyone there as a total douche. (Or whatever the UK equivalent is that describes a clueless and annoying but harmless self-interested/selfish guy.) And that's not going to help you.
posted by Kololo at 5:03 AM on August 5, 2011 [2 favorites]

Unless, of course, your business/thesis is totally awesome, in which case you won't need a card table anyway.
posted by trevyn at 5:50 AM on August 5, 2011

I'm sorry. I probably know too little to conceivably be helpful, but . . . Could you clarify what you even mean by promoting your thesis and your business? I just can't envision doing both at the same event, simultaneously.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 6:14 AM on August 5, 2011

I've helped sponsor and plan a TEDx event in a major US city.

If this event is run like every other TED event, you won't be allowed to do this. Even the paying sponsors are typically not allowed to have information booths unless they're providing a service to the event (say, a local restaurant with a box-lunch pickup booth).

Not only that, but if your primary goal is to self-promote, you're at the wrong event. There are plenty of other networking events going on all the time that are more suited for this. These events are purposefully kept small, and any whiff of sleaziness on your part will certainly get you on the "no" list next time.

Some people call it pretentious, but there's a reason that TED events get the very best and brightest minds in the world as presenters and attendees. They are very adamant about separating wheat from chaff.
posted by chrisfromthelc at 6:50 AM on August 5, 2011

Response by poster: My thesis is based on research in voluntary entrepreneurship in health and social care organizations, focusing on community radio which in the UK is a hybrid of a media company and a civil service organization because it has to produce 'social gain' in the community. The work has shown there are pathways to creating better results from volunteers (and resulting in financial and/or employment opportunities).

My preliminary field of research was during my work as director of a professional basketball team social enterprise (a community interest company) in England. The sales development program I put in place depended on training athletics coaches to do sales (no quotas). This had the effect that between January and July 2011 we created four part-time jobs earning more than $35 per hour. Of course, the goal is not just to train everyone in sales and the positions created are generally not in sales. The research's eventual goals are about what are the conditions for socially recognized self-realization as a leverage for more profitable work and organizational success in health and social care organizations. If you're familiar with the open source movement, you will understand how co-production operates but here is a good outline by Adam Arvidsson (PDF).

I have clashed with a lot of the people who lead entrepreneur training organizations in Europe because I do not believe entrepreneurship can be taught procedurally, but must be fostered through means of actual production. I am very pleased to get invited, considering that the board consists of a lot of people I have had less than civil discussions with on panels throughout the last nine months. I am aware of the mission of TED and don't want to step on any toes. Thanks for the heads-up about about tabling.
posted by parmanparman at 7:04 AM on August 5, 2011


That sounds supremely interesting. Concentrate on that versus selling your business. ;)
posted by chrisfromthelc at 8:29 AM on August 5, 2011

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