Communicating with Library Technology Vendors: 10 Tips for Trade Shows


Did you get on the exhibits floor and check out the latest technology demos? What kind of interaction did you have with your tech vendor? Was it productive or satisfying?  Did they hear what you had to say and did you understand what they were pitching? If not, you may want to consider these tips next time.
  1. If you are a member of a tech committee, a department head, or a director identify yourself right away. They will listen harder if they think you are a decision maker.
  2. If you are part of the staff, let them know that what you are asking for is relevant to the overall goals at your library (i.e. service). Asking for a tiny feature enhancement probably won’t have any impact, and there are other forums for that.
  3. Find out if you are talking to sales or not. Salespeople are trained to give demos of the product so don’t shy away from them.
  4. Find out if there are any product managers, coders, CEOs on the floor if you have detailed information you need or just to pick their brains.
  5. Rather than asking for free stuff, you can ask the marketing people about the company itself. What do they say about the company? Is there a particular message they are trying to convey?
  6. Don’t play stump the vendor. They don’t know everything you do; so be helpful about informing them of things that may help you.
  7. If there is something you want your library to buy, send your director over; you might be more likely to get it.
  8. Ask what functionality is available today, not what functionality is available in the future. Ask if what you are seeing on the screen is current.
  9. Vendors are not “evil” and many have staff that care and come from library backgrounds. If you know their background you can draw some conclusions about their knowledge base.
  10. Thank them for being a Library Champion! This is very important because this funds the ALA’s amazing advocacy campaign called Libraries Transform.

Good luck!


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