Great interactions with attendees are one of the cornerstones of a successful trade show appearance. We’ve recently discussed ways to innovate and foster better connections on the show floor using a data-driven approach. But sometimes, establishing a great relationship boils down to simple trade show etiquette.
Before your next big show, learn what’s faux pas and what’s not on the show floor to make sure that you’re making the right impression. Here are a few trade show-specific etiquette tips to keep in mind.
1) Add Seating
Should you offer seating in your booth, or not? This is a question many exhibitors ponder and debate year after year.
Some believe it’s an easy way to offer much-needed respite to exhausted attendees and provide comfortable meeting spaces. Others are firm in their stance that it gives sales people an excuse to sit down and relax when they should be putting their efforts into selling.
At Steelhead, we know that attending a trade show is a fiercely physical experience. In fact, one tech writer logged over seven miles in a single day at CES. By offering seating, you create a comfortable space for prospects to rest and focus on your presentation or demo.
2) Dress Appropriately
Should you wear heels or flats? A jacket and tie, or a branded polo?
On the trade show floor, you’re no longer just representing yourself — you’re a physical representation of your brand as a whole. If you’re not showing up in the brand’s best light, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to make the right impression on your prospects.
Think about your brand’s image. Is it edgy and hip? You can probably get away with something more casual. Is it more traditional and buttoned up? Don’t forget to pack that tie.
Do your best to align your attire with your industry and your brand. When in doubt, business casual is usually the safest bet.
3) Work on Communication
Trade show success relies heavily on maintaining clear communication with your prospects and customers before, during, and after the show. Establish basic communication techniques with your team to ensure a consistent and positive connection with everyone who interacts with you and your team.
Before the Show
Use a diverse mix of direct and digital communication to let attendees know you’re exhibiting. Details should include where your booth is located, what products you’re exhibiting, and any critical information about special presentations or giveaways.
During the Show
Create guidelines for greetings so your team knows exactly what to say to prospects. Here are a few examples.
- Greeting for Random Attendee — “Hi, what brings you to the show today?”
- Greeting for Attendee Approaching Your Booth — “Hi, what can we help you with today?”
Finally, when exchanging business cards, make sure to ask the other person a few questions about their work. After you part ways, jot down a few key pieces of information on the back of their card to help you remember the interaction later during your follow-ups.
After the Show
Follow up with attendees who stopped by the booth through email, on LinkedIn, or through direct mail or call methods. Don’t forget to use the notes you took during interactions to personalize follow-ups when possible.
4) Practice Fluent Body Language
Body language is a powerful form of communication that severely impacts how we interact with other people. Brush up on positive and negative forms of body language and how to react to other people’s body language to adjust your own messaging.
Whenever possible, exhibit body language that’s casual and friendly. Avoid negative body language like crossing your arms or looking down when speaking.
5) Network and Host Like a Pro
A big part of the trade show experience happens during happy hours, dinners, and other casual networking events that include drinks and food. Knowing how to act in these situations can be tricky, especially when things appear a bit more casual.
Practice good etiquette and stay professional by limiting yourself to two drinks, and always waiting for the client to eat or drink first.
By focusing on proper etiquette, you allow your prospects to focus on your message, and not on your behavioral blunders. Get more tips on perfecting your trade show techniques by checking out our free resource: 7 Keys To An Irresistible Trade Show Campaign.