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October 22, 2012 11:34 AM   Subscribe

How can we help event attendees show their expertise?

I once attended a conference at which, after registering and obtaining a name badge, an attendee could visit a table of buttons/pins and attach them to the badge/badge-holder to demonstrate expertise. There was a button for "lawyer", one for a particular industry certification, and so on and so forth. You'd see people walking around covered in these buttons and discussing their experience with each topic.

Now I help to run conferences in a different industry, and I mentioned this to my boss as we were brainstorming ways for attendees to better understand the skills in the room and kick-start information sharing. He loved it, but he wants more examples/ideas to compare.

So, MeFites: have you ever used/seen a strategy like this? And on the more practical side, do you think pins/buttons are best or would stickers or color-coded ribbons for some reason be better? (Feel free to also provide any thoughts on obtaining all of these buttons/pins/whatevers.)

[Note: conferences will be in the US/UK and will be attended by executive-level folks in the IT branches of large companies with no specific industry focus.]
posted by cranberry_nut to Work & Money (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If you've got name badges, then badge ribbons (example) might be better. OTOH, people can take pins off when they're sick of questions about something.
posted by rmd1023 at 11:46 AM on October 22, 2012

Depending on how many 'expertises' there are, would it be practical to have a symbol on the badge that indicates a person's expertise. For example, a lawyer would have scales, a doctor would have a stethoscope. I don't know enough about your constituency but maybe network folks would have cables. (That might be a bad example but I think you know what I mean.) Programmers, infrastructure architects would have an image symbolic of their areas.
posted by shoesietart at 11:57 AM on October 22, 2012

For a TEDx conference, we allowed people to 'tag' themselves (think along the lines of a blog post's tags) during the application process. These would be featured in the design and layout of the badge. You could obviously limit the number or length of the tags depending on your design needs.
posted by chrisfromthelc at 11:59 AM on October 22, 2012

Put radio buttons on the (online) registration form next to icons for common areas of expertise. Those "merit badges" would then be printed across the bottom or down the side of their (inkjet-printed) name badge. Done!
posted by wenestvedt at 12:13 PM on October 22, 2012

(Though little pins would be sweet swag after the conference!)
posted by wenestvedt at 12:13 PM on October 22, 2012

Response by poster: Oddly enough, my team doesn't have any control over the registration form or the badges themselves, so whatever we do needs to be done on-site.

Thanks, all, for the responses so far. Keep 'em coming! :)
posted by cranberry_nut at 12:16 PM on October 22, 2012

THATCamps (which usually have around 100 attendees) set aside an hour for "dork shorts" where anyone who signs up is welcome to get up and talk for 1-2 minutes about their project of the moment. You just need a signup sheet and a moderator to keep time and boot them off when their minute is up. You can also have a computer and projector so they can pull their website up easily. The point is to get up and say "here's cool thing X that I work on, here's the URL where you find out more, come talk to me afterward."
posted by MsMolly at 10:49 AM on October 23, 2012

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