The hardest workers at EDUCAUSE 2010 (save the conference organizers) will be the people working the booths in the Exhibit Hall. If you have ever done this before, worked a conference as a representative of a company, you know just how exhausting the experience can be.
Most people from companies who staff the booths are not full-time salespeople. (I believe this to be true - but it would be an interesting research project to examine the job descriptions, educational backgrounds, demographic factors, experience etc. of EDUCAUSE attendees who are exhibitors).
My impression is that the people who staff the booths have a wide range of responsibilities, ranging across marketing, project management, and finance and technical jobs. I always like to ask people in the booths what the do for their company, and what their background is. People who work for educational technology companies tend to, in my experience, have a range of job histories that are perhaps more varied (and non linear) than employees in other industries. Many come from educational or teaching backgrounds. The world of educational technology is a small one, and many people have previously worked at other companies represented in the Exhibitor Hall.
I always hope that companies bring enough people to allow for time outside of the booth. It is great when representatives of companies can attend sessions, and engage in questions and debates.
One of the practices that drives me crazy is when some people in a company where a suit or a shirt and tie, where other people have to wear the company golf shirts. Everyone should dress alike, and everyone should spend time working the booth. A caste system of employees is a huge downer, and does not fit with our higher ed culture.
Some of the best conversations in the booth are with engineers, developers and programmers.
Please don't stop us to talk if we are walking by your booth, as we may be in the mood to browse but not chat. On the other hand, having enough people working the booth to make sure that someone is available to say hello and engage in conversation if we walk up to or in your booth is really important. People need some coaching about how to approach and talk to people, this is not a natural skill to many (at least it is not for me). When you introduce yourself please let us know what your role is in your company.
Are you as excited for EDUCAUSE 2010 as I am?