Recruiting Tables: Do's and Don'ts
In order for fan club groups to grow in the number of members, many turn to the tried and true stand-by—The Recruiting table. Set up at a science fiction convention a well dressed table can attract mew members to your chapter. However, a plain and boring table can be a put-off, attracting no one. Regardless of the situation, the charity you are raising money for, or club funds to spend, all recruiting table can succeed. Here are a few basic tips to help you achieve your goal.
Before-hand preparations are very important. Recruiting opportunities are won, or lost by the preparation made for the event. Essential to your efforts is making sure you have enough recruiting flyers, business cards, and other paperwork. If you don't use or can't afford recruiting flyers (or run out), a handy item to have is plain old pen and paper. You can jot down a name, an address, or email address and tell people you'll send them "more information." Once the event is over, don't forget to follow through.
Of course, the best advertisement for your group is people--preferably in uniform. If your group is small, don't be afraid to ask for help from other KAG chapters. We are all sister ships of one another, with the responsibility to help out as we can. Another good idea is to scout out the convention area during set up. No Klingon fights on unfamiliar ground. Many times other KAG chapters have been promised a prime location only to find that they have been moved to the worst spot possible. To avoid such disappointments, a quick check of the area during the set up phase is important. It is easier to negotiate a better place for your recruiting table before the convention opens, than to try to move things around after opening ceremonies.
It is not necessary to build a recruiting table from scratch. Any large table will do. Keep in mind that table space is always limited. Don't clutter your table with every Klingon model under the sun. A few well chosen items can decorate your table nicely. Too much clutter can hinder your ability to get to recruiting materials quickly, loosing you the opportunity to gain a new member. If you take care to organize the recruiting table in a stylish and effective manner your recruiting campaign will have a better chance to succeed. Don't let your people put their "stuff" (food, drinks, etc.) on the table. By keeping the table clean, you show a pride in your group and you prevent someone from knocking over a drink and ruining all the recruiting materials. A well organized and clean table shows potential members that you have organization, style, and most importantly, pride in your chapter. Your recruiting table is your "storefront" that you will use to draw business.
Of course, the leadership you show at the event will make a difference in the end results. Even if you are outnumbered by the members of another chapter, or club, your leadership skills can take a bad situation and turn it into an advantage, or at the very least minimizing the impact. Whether your ship/outpost is manned by friends, relatives, and trusted comrades, you must maintain a sense of order. You do not have to "rule with an iron hand," but you do have to keep your crewmates focused on the goal.
Now, we are all guilty of goofing off and having fun at events, but not paying attention to the people around your table, or those passing by, you lose chances of gaining potential members. A few simple things need to be done to keep your crew focused.
Don't allow any of your people in front of the recruiting table, not only will they be blocking potential members from getting to your information, but they could scare off some of the younger fans. Since the table is restricted in size, make sure your crewmates stand behind the table to ease access. If a crew member does stand in front of the table for a lengthy period of time, gently remind him/her that he/she is blocking the table.
It is also important to keep your crew members from standing around and looking bored ("Break it up. You look like a cadet review." –Admiral Kirk; "Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home"). Rather than letting the whole crew mans the table (unless you are a small group just starting out), keep a few members around the table and trade people out. Send the rest out with flyers; allow them to mix it up with the crowd. By rotating jobs, you give crew members a chance to sit down, get a bite to eat, trips to the bathroom, and chances to roam around and enjoy the convention.
Also, don't hog all the fun. Trust your crew. It shows that leadership abounds on your ship. If a crew member makes a mistake, correct him/her quietly in private and offer suggestions on how he/she can improve his/her approach, or informational knowledge. Teach your crew, don't put them down or make them feel inferior. No one likes to feel, or hear themselves called, stupid in public.
Upon occasion, you may decide to recruit with another chapter, organization, of club. Interacting with various clubs is important. However, don't allow rivalries to get out of hand. Keep an eye on what's going on. Too often one chapter will get distracted and lose chances at recruiting. Against non-Klingon chapters this is not too damaging. However, losing sight of your goals when jointly recruiting with another Klingon club can prove to be costly. Keep in mind that you need to be aware of your surrounding and opportunities as they present themselves to you , and take advantage of both, to the best of your abilities.
Keep your people happy. Make sure everyone has an occasional break and that those sitting at the recruiting table are not abandoned. You don't have to make a hard-core schedule. Just make sure you don't let the whole crew walk off for lunch and strand one lonely member at the table!
There are also things you can do to spice up your recruiting efforts to grab people's attention. Here are a few ideas and "tricks" that could help.
Is there a video game or arcade nearby? You could have one crew member play it, with a few buddies to loudly cheer him/her on! After all, nothing draws a crowd like a crowd!
Be entertaining! Don't stand there like you're guarding a garbage scow. People can be naturally intimidated by Klingons in uniform (costume) to begin with. If you act unapproachable, people will skirt by you as quickly as they can. Laugh, joke, smile, and make merry. Look like you're enjoying your own personal party. If you don't frighten away the crowd, you might just recruit a couple of new people without even knowing it.
Also keep in mind, that most non-Trek fans are usually very nice. Some will be interested in only talking about your uniform construction and such. Others, however, may be rude, perceiving you as a fanatic nut head. Always watch out for those who are looking to make a point with their "knowledge" of Trek, or other stupid reasons to elicit a smart remark/confrontation. Use their wise-cracks to your advantage. Be adaptable to the situation, and the people, around you.
Don't be rude or abrasive. You can turn their verbal jabs into a display of wits, and of your ship's tolerance, humor and sense of fun. Remember that even the code of chivalry comes from a warrior culture. Don't provoke or escalate the person's verbal attack. Instead, find a way to turn it from something negative into something positive.
The tips and ideas presented here are just the tip of the iceberg. Creativity, innovation, and adaptability are the keys to improve the atmosphere for recruiting. There are many ways to recruit. Don't limit yourself to just the recruiting table. Just about any convention panel, appearance, of event can be a recruiting opportunity. Be flexible and don't be afraid to think outside the box. Experiment and explore. If an idea fails, at least you know what NOT to do next time. Information is power. Pass on the ideas that work, and help out others. After all, Klingons just LOVE power!