Making a lasting impression isn’t always the same as making a good impression, particularly when you are trying to woo international leads. When you use trade show displays to convey your message at an international event, you should assume that you will encounter visitors from other countries that are valuable players in your industry, and who are interested in what your business has to offer. The difficult aspect of this is to gain their interest and respect without damaging a potential business relationship because you were ignorant of certain social rules surrounding their behavior and expectations. There are a few things you can do to successfully network with foreign visitors. Keep the following guidelines from an international trade show company in mind as you demonstrate your products or services.
Read Their Body Language
Americans tend to engage each other quickly and interact physically as well as with words and gestures. Some countries have a different concept of how close is appropriate for business peers. If you are talking to guests and they seem to be trying to retreat behind your bannerstands, you’ve probably invaded their personal space. Follow their lead rather than taking the lead when greeting. More than one exhibitor has a horror story about global business misunderstandings. Let your guests take the lead in your company’s trade show displays.
If they bow, you should bow. If they extend their hand for a handshake, do so firmly but quickly. One of the most crucial elements of body language is eye contact. You should never linger over eye contact longer than your guests do, but do be willing to lock gazes briefly when making a point. Remember, follow their lead to avoid coming off too strong.
Engage Them Personally
Many business cultures in other countries put a high value on making a personal connection before getting down to business. If they send company representatives to international trade shows, those people are usually high ranking executives within their organization. They will expect to be treated with a level of hospitality that isn’t often found in the United States, where things are “strictly business.” You should give some individual attention and hospitality to any international guests. Moving on to business too soon may be construed as insulting.
Avoid Language Barriers On Trade Show Displays
Many Americans don’t realize how often they use slang, colloquialisms, metaphors and regional dialect until this is pointed out to them. When talking to others at trade shows abroad, be sure you’re using proper English grammar. If you can, practice your sales pitch and some casual dialogue with someone who can point out when you’re using language that could be unclear or confusing. Metaphors and similes in particular don’t translate well, so stop talking about “a fish out of water” or when it’s “raining cats and dogs.”
Be sure to talk to your exhibit provider about the wording on your trade show exhibit. They can offer valuable input on properly wording text so that it will appeal to your international guests rather than confusing them. If your provider has overseas offices, they can work with those branches to ensure that your message is being conveyed accurately so that your guests don’t quickly move on to other trade show displays where they can understand their hosts better.
For an in depth look at the best practices as well as the similarities and differences between domestic and international event exhibiting, read the International Exhibiting Trends & Outlook white paper.