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How Trade Show Booth Staffing Is Like Speed Dating

How Tradeshow Booth Staffing Is Like Speed DatingSorry, we’re not going to be talking about how to fix your love life in this post. However, there are a lot of similarities in getting the attention of a potential mate and getting the attention of a trade show attendee. You only have a few seconds to convey your message and attract those passing by.  And, unlike Craig’s List,  there is no “Missed Connection” section on a trade show’s website.

Compared to many international trade shows, U.S. shows have relatively short show hours and fewer show days.  This means that most attendees don’t have a lot of time to spend with any one particular trade show booth.  They will try to hit as many booths as they can. Oftentimes, there are other events associated with a show that attendees are also visiting.  In short, there is a lot of competition for attendee’s attention and you don’t have a lot of time to impress them.

Most U.S. shows have badges or name tags, often color-coded to quickly identify who is who, containing all of our information that can be scanned and exchanged quickly.  Attendees spend about 1-3 minutes at each station and move to the next one.  If you feel there is a connection or potential to do business you may exchange contact information. Sound familiar?  It’s sort of like speed dating!

So how do you effectively grab the attention of a passing attendee?

1. Use Eye Contact to Initiate a Conversation:

Check out my previous post on the Power of Eye Contact.  Making solid eye contact and simply initiating contact with an attendee is the first step.  Use engaging phrases, or “pick-up lines.”  My favorite one?  “Hi.” Just as simple as that!

In case that’s not your style, here are a few more:

“So what brings you to the show?”

“Are you looking for anything specific here at the show?”

If they are noticing something specific about your trade show exhibit, ask “What do you think about product X or product Y?”

2. Engage and Qualify Them:  

Now that you have their attention you need to pique their interest and qualify them as a potential lead.  This means asking a few questions and  getting them to provide as much information as possible.  You might not be able to spend a lot of time with this person so you want to make sure that if you or someone else follows up with them after the show, they will have all of the information that they need.  Ask them if they have tried your product or know your company.  Ask them what they thought of the current product or service they are using — what do they like or dislike about it?  Take a lot of clear notes, as this is valuable information that will help you reestablish the connection that you’ve created during the follow up.

2. Exchange information and Determine a Next Step:  

Now that you have engaged and qualified them, determine what the next step is and make sure you both know what that is going to be. Get their contact information so you don’t leave it up to them to follow up. Think of it this way: they are the bombshell that is getting approached by every guy in the bar.  Chances are, they just might not remember you.  Don’t take it personally though – they will be talking to a lot of people over the course of the show.  If you will personally be following up with them after the show, give them your contact information.  If someone else will be doing the follow up, let the attendee know you will be passing along all of the information you have and they will be contacted by someone else soon.

Remember, your company has spent a lot of time and money for you to be at the show and each attendee that walks by your booth could be an opportunity to make a connection.

Trade Show Booth Staffing Guidebook85% of your trade show success depends on your booth staff. To ensure you’re making the most of every opportunity they have, read the Booth Staffing Guidebook.  Click here to request your free copy of the 48-page book filled with insightful articles, worksheets, and checklists.

About the Author

Jordan Hanlon was a New Business Development Analyst at Skyline Exhibits, located in St. Paul, Minnesota.

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