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Trade Show Etiquette 201

It’s SO Much More Than Not Eating In Your Booth

We all know that talking on your cell phone and eating in the booth are among the worst things you can do at trade show. But how many of us have witnessed, or been guilty of, less obvious breaches of exhibition etiquette? If you think your booth manners are perfect, ask yourself whether you or your staff have ever committed one of the following “Trade Show Don’ts.”

Respecting All Attendees

Many veteran exhibitors claim they can easily sort out live prospects from the attendee who just wants to collect a lot of swag. But be careful here: that hard-to-engage wallflower that wanders into your booth may be the CEO of an emerging startup who could become next year’s top customer. Rude or dismissive behavior from booth staff can be remembered long after the expo ends.

Helping Other Exhibitors

Brief chats with other exhibitors is important for networking and learning trade show tips. But if you notice an attendee curiously eyeing the other exhibitor’s booth, point that prospect out and step aside. Your grace will likely be rewarded the next time you’re the one temporarily distracted on the floor.

Attending Socials

If you think the best networking opportunities happen on the show floor, you haven’t been exhibiting very long. Opening events, evening galas, award ceremonies, and meet-and-greets are where true customer connections are formed, and existing ones strengthened. More importantly, your absence from these events can send the message that you don’t care about your industry colleagues on a more personal level.

Staying for the Entire Event

After long hours on the floor, it can be tempting to pack up your booth before an event is even over. But doing so could cause you to miss out on last-minute leads, and can sends a message to attendees that your time is more valuable than theirs. It can also affect your pocket book … some show organizer state in the exhibit manuals that they will fine exhibitors who tear down before the show is over.

Don’t Spam the Fishbowl

Onsite signups long ago made the business card fishbowl obsolete. But if you acquire a list of emails and try to subscribe them to your e-marketing list, you’re likely to get reported for spam. A better approach is to immediately send any of those random prospects a personal, one-to-one email and provide a link to a landing page on your website with a valuable whitepaper or case study. Ideally, those downloads also automatically subscribe the prospect to your double-opt-in newsletter.

Good trade show manners go far beyond the creating an inviting booth experience. Mindfulness of these and other aspects of trade show etiquette can pay long-term dividends in the strength of your brand.

About the Author

Tami has been with Skyline for over 30 years as a successful trade show exhibiting consultant where she enjoys meeting clients, learning about their marketing needs and collaborating to help them look and function their best when they exhibit. She is currently co-owner at Skyline Exhibits Indiana in Indianapolis. A graduate of Indiana University's Kelley School of Business, Tami enjoys spending time with her family (she's a proud hockey mom).

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