We designed the Entrepreneur Fair to help new and emerging business people find resources and services that would help them take their passions to the next logical step. From basic financial education from banks and supportive government agencies to local mentoring opportunities and networking, attendees could find help for the area of their business that needed the most attention. Alex Freund, a successful business executive and mentor, spoke about the importance of hiring the first employee for a business. The event was held July 30, 2015, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.
The program was planned by a three-member team comprised of staff from our reference department. One person contacted vendors and arranged for the speaker while the other two created educational materials for the night of the event. We accomplished this over a two-month period, with the last group commitment happening about three weeks before the event. As we had never done an event like this before, the challenge was figuring out what to do next while recruiting vendors for the fair.
Participating organizations included the Camden County Regional Chamber of Commerce, Latin American Economic Development Association (LAEDA), U.S. Small Business Administration, New Jersey Association of Women Business Owners, SCORE, PNC Bank, Republic Bank, New Jersey Small Business Development Center at Rutgers, Technology & Entrepreneur Talent Network, Camden County Improvement Authority and us, Cherry Hill Public Library.
Vendors who had committed to attending our event publicized it on their mailing lists and social media accounts. In addition, the library's PR department sent out press information to local media outlets, and we shared it on the library's social media accounts.
We spent a portion of the budget on the speaker fee and publicity materials. We should have spent more on publicizing the event.
The library's facilities staff set up the tables and chairs, and the planning team put cards on the tables so the participating organizations would know which tables were theirs. The library also staffed a table offering information on library resources. In total, five or six staff members helped run the event.
People would enter the conference center and then approach different tables as they desired. We had about 60 people attend; based on feedback from the vendors, we were told this was an incredible first event. Attendance was sporadic but steady. Given the niche nature of the fair, the attendance was reasonable.
We did not have an attendee evaluation form, but we did solicit feedback from all the vendors as part of a "thank you" from the library. Most replied with very helpful critiques.
Plan (even further) ahead. Offer food, even if it's just coffee. We did not have a check-in table for attendees, but I would encourage others to have one; registration can and will help, especially if you offer nametags. And don't sweat the small stuff — but be sure to manage the relationships with the outside organizations as closely as possible since you may want to have them back again.
About This Library
The Cherry Hill Public Library  is among the largest municipal libraries in New Jersey, serving 70,000 residents of this vibrant and diverse suburb eight miles east of Philadelphia. Staffed by 15 full-time librarians, CHPL hosts more than 600 events and classes per year. In addition to providing access to premium print and digital information, CHPL prides itself on providing innovative programming and non-traditional collections.