We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Exhibiting or attending a trade show can be overwhelming, especially if it’s your first time. There’s a lot going on and there’s a lot of pressure to see some tangible results after making such an investment in the show in the first place. First of all, to quote Eddy Vedder, “Let’s just breathe.” Because if you’re stressed, you’re going to put off that vibe to your employees and attendees. So take a chill pill, Jill, and read these “trade show basics” for a more pleasant experience all around.

1. Stay near the aisle to better engage with attendees. Approaching a booth can be intimidating, because it feels like you’re walking into someone else’s living room. Have your sales staff make eye contact with attendees and engage in genuine dialogue with people.

2. Don’t allow staff to have food or drinks in the booth. We are NOT ones to wage war against lunch and snacks. We love lunch and snacks. Just not in the booth. It can be a distraction and a turnoff to people walking by. Give your employees adequate time for breaks and lunch and have them enjoy those things away from the booth – chances are it will be a welcome and much-needed breather anyways.

3. Do pre-show, show and post show promotion. But don’t overdo it. It’s fine to share what you’re doing on social media, and post it in the newsletter, but don’t do it to the point of annoyance. Just use some common sense when getting the word out. Unique, direct mailers are a great way to standout and engage employees.

4. Choose your booth staff wisely. You need the A team for this one. And if you have any doubts about someone’s performance lately, they may not be the right person for the job. You need people who can communicate and can exude a quiet confidence that makes them both approachable and knowledgeable. The ex-frat bro who shotguns beers at the office bbq may also not be the right choice. You want to have confidence that your staff can be at the top of their game – not on a three-day hangover.

5. Give quality giveaways that people will keep. Seriously, if it has to be a pen, make sure it’s at least a nice pen. Crappy giveaways will end up in the hotel trash – if they even make it out the convention’s doors.

6. Keep demos short and to the point. People have multiple appointments they have to keep throughout the day, and if you happen to be engaging someone who didn’t have an appointment, you don’t want them regretting what they just got themselves into.

7. Submit for awards. Awards at a trade show can be a great way to boost morale among your staff and make a great impression among industry leaders. It’s also a way to get your name out there in trade show media outlets.

8. Consider attendee and staff ergonomics when laying out booth space.

9. Consider logo placement from all distances in the show hall.

10. Have fun. Try to find the right balance between being professional and having fun. Remember that you’re there to work, but smiles are contagious and friends are made when you know how to relax. Also, see No. 4.

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