Table intentionally! Focus on your goals. Is your goal to promote your organization? Promote your message? Promote an upcoming event? Recruit new members/voters/volunteers/candidates? Sell merchandise? Don’t try to focus on all of these things at once. Pick your top priorities and focus on those.
Pick your timing carefully based on target audience, location, local events etc., so that you can maximize your effectiveness.
If at all possible, have 2-3 team members man the table. This helps give some leeway in case someone has to step away to solve a problem or for a restroom break. If your event is multiple days long and you need to organize many time slots, consider using an online tool such as www.signupgenius.com. Confirm with volunteers the day before to make sure they remember to show up, that they understand the value of tabling and know these basic tips.
Position your table as optimally as you can. Sometimes you get to choose your spot, sometimes you don’t. If possible, position it where there is the most foot traffic.
Set up before the event or allotted time frame begins. This will help your organization to 1) look organized and 2) have plenty of time during the event or allotted time frame to do the tabling.
Ditch the chairs and bring your comfortable shoes. Your team needs to be standing, not sitting. Standing will help them interact with visitors more actively. If chairs remain behind the table, your team will be undoubtedly use them. So remove the temptation unless, of course, one of your team members is is elderly or disabled.
Provide limited quantities of each material on the table. Keep extra copies out of sight in files below your table. Too many copies on a table makes the materials look unpopular and visitors are less likely to approach your table.
Keep your table tidy. No drinks or trash on the table! Monitor this carefully and regularly.
Step back and look at your table. Is it appealing and welcoming? Does it present your organization/ cause/candidate in a positive light?
Consider connecting your table with relevant local events and issues. If there is an issue in the news that folks are passionate about, consider putting a Libertarian twist on it, create handouts and talking points, and use the table to educate voters on the Libertarian approach on this issue. Consider highlighting this issue in your signage.
Always remain calm and professional, especially when it is challenging to do so. There will be confrontational situations where visitors are trying to egg you on or be difficult. Don’t take the bait. Other folks are watching. One of the best ways to win folks to our cause is to be extra polished, calm, and professional.
If someone is trying to put you on the spot and you can’t think of a good response, consider asking them for their contact info. Tell them that you’ll be happy to email them once you’ve had more time to think over the matter. Respectful and reasonable visitors will appreciate this and take you up on it. Others who are just trying to make your life difficult most likely won’t. Either way, it avoids your being distracted for a long period of time with a difficult situation. You need to be able to get back to focusing on outreach to other visitors.
When conversations happen, try to move the discussion over to the side of the table so as not to block the table from other passersby.
Avoid conversations among your team members. You are all there to reach out to others, not to chit chat with each other, no matter how tempting it may be. This is another good reason to set up before the event so that your volunteers can chat a bit before the tabling begins and thus will be less tempted during the event. Again, everyone needs to stay focused. Table intentionally!
If you are collecting money (from dues, selling merchandise, donations, etc), keep the money in a locked box out of sight.
Actively engage visitors. As folks approach, focus on them. Make eye contact. This will make them more likely to come to your table. Get their attention. Hand them a flier or brochure. Ask them if they have heard of your organization or cause. Invite them to come to your event. Invite them to sign up on your sheet or participate in your drawing.
Photographers and news crews tend to show up when you least expect them. Event hosts, and even venue management, may hire professional photographers to work the event taking both posed and candid images of attendees, sponsors, speakers, vendors, and others.
Therefore, it is not unreasonable to expect that a photographer will be sharing a picture of your table (even if it’s just in the background) with anyone from an art director to a friend. If it is a good photo, chances are it will be considered for use in news articles, on social media, and any number of other places.
If your table looks nice, professional and represents not only your organization well, but the event itself well, the photographer will find you. He/she is on a mission to get great event shots to turn in, and you want your table and your brand to be a part of that wonderful exposure opportunity. In other words, keep a smile on your face and branded materials (if at all possible) in your hand.
Make sure you or a highly reliable person has the contact info which was collected. Type up that info ASAP and share it with whomever appropriate, for example, the state party, county party, national party, candidates, etc.
Follow up with these new contacts. Thank them for stopping by. Send them a link to your organization’s website and potentially websites of other relevant groups or candidates. Invite them to an upcoming event. Friend them on Facebook. And so on. Be friendly, but respect their privacy, and don’t annoy them.
Consider how your table went. Was it productive? What would you like to have had on hand that you didn’t? What can you improve upon next time?
Consider writing up a short, upbeat article about how the event went and share it in your newsletter, in email blasts or with your social media audience. Be sure to recognize your team members, mention special visitors, share images from the event and thank everyone for attending.