We Want You: Finding Staff for Your Convention
Conventions and events often run into the problem of not knowing where to get volunteers and staff. Social media, schools, friends of friends and general word of mouth are the go-to methods for finding new, able-bodied, staffers. Many conventions even have great perks for their staff, like hotel room discounts, t-shirts, lanyards, and more. So why is it so hard to get great staff? Is your convention really exhausting every avenue? Here are some great ideas for where else to look for staff!
From anime clubs, writing clubs, or even speech and debate clubs, you can find potential staff in a lot of places! If you need panel moderators, consider asking the speech and debate club at the local college or high school. Give them some guidelines to work with, and even an outline with questions specific to each panel to help them keep panels on topic, and in the time slot.
If you have open spots on your social media team, it may be a great place for members of a writing, journalism, or even photography club. There are various tools that help businesses assign teams to manage social media, like Hootsuite. Have a senior staffer mentor and head each team, to help keep the convention’s brand consistent.
Its becoming more and more common for Boy Scout and Girl Scout groups to going to events like conventions. Reach out to your local troop to find out if any of the scouts are looking for volunteer hours to complete a badge or achievement award.
Not all churches are against conventions and geekdom. If you’re part of a geek-friendly church, or know of one in your area, ask if you can talk to the youth group or leave out some flyers during coffee hour. Some churches even organize youth conferences mostly run by youth leaders, so you may be able to find some potential staffers with some prior event experience! The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship that I was a member of growing up would have definitely been into helping out a local convention.
Big Brothers/Big Sisters
Big Brothers/Big Sisters is a mentor program that pairs an older and younger pair with similar interests. Think about offering a discount to pairs if the older Brother or Sister puts in a few volunteer hours. It encourages community engagement and gives the participants a way to enjoy the convention together.
It sounds silly, but if you can find jobs and furniture on Craigslist, why not convention staff? Of course you’ll want to use whatever your convention’s normal staff screening policy is. Another tip, make sure your expectations for the position listed are very clear. But don’t be afraid to post a listing or two!
A lot of libraries are more than willing to put up a flyer or two. You may also want to consider holding a meetup for potential staff and volunteers at your local library. Generally libraries are near public transit, making them easy to get to and a great place to recruit! Make sure you ask about potential clubs or book groups that may be interested, or even getting a shout out in the monthly newsletter or event calendar.
The dreaded handout. In the digital age, flyers sometimes get overlooked. But they shouldn’t be. Think of your flyer like a business card. Its something for a potential staffer to take home as a reminder of your event’s dates, where to find you online, and registration information. Consider making a special flyer to advertise for staff and volunteers with instructions of how and where to sign up. Be sure it’s eye catching, and a size that won’t be awkward, but is easy to fit in a pocket, wallet, or bag. The last thing you want is for your flyer to end up on the ground or just thrown away because it’s too big.
Some General Considerations
Don’t be afraid to have staff from out-of-state. Especially if they are a highly recommended specialist like a translator of head of security. Give each department head autonomy to find staff in new and creative ways. And encourage senior staff to ask friends or family to sign up, or have them help run recruitment drives. It’s always best to have a staffer who is familiar with the position be the contact person for potential applicants. They know how to field questions, and can judge if an applicant is right for the position or not. And if someone applies that you don’t think will be a good fit, try directing them to another department head. It may be that they’ll be awesome at that other position!
Try out Hootsuite to manage your convention's social media!
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