Trade Show Etiquette 101: Tips for Working a Booth (Part Two)

When it comes to trade shows, presentation is everything. One wrong move could result in your brand losing a viable customer.

In part two of Trade Show Etiquette 101, we have four more tips to help you impress attendees as they pass by or visit your booth. Did you miss part one? Check it out here.

1. You never know who’s watching – be professional, knowledgeable, and discrete.

As stated, when you’re deep in conversation, it can be easy to tune out the rest of the world. But when it comes to trade shows, everyone is watching.

As you’re speaking with colleagues or prospects, avoid taking part in any gossip, discussing private personal or business matters, and pay attention to your movement and body language in the booth. As people enter or circle your space, it is likely that they’re listening in on the conversations taking place inside.

If you wouldn’t put it in your presentation or discuss it with your boss, you probably shouldn’t be talking about it on the trade show floor. Focus on your prospects’ questions, provide detailed information about your products or services, and don’t give away any information that could be harmful to your business.

2. Eat and drink outside of the booth.

There’s nothing worse than approaching someone with a mouthful of gum or food. If prospects can see you chowing down on lunch in the booth, they might assume you’re unavailable to talk and you’ll lose the lead.

It’s going to be a long day and even if you want to grab a bite to eat, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to leave your station unless you and your team have made a schedule allowing for breaks. Make sure you eat breakfast beforehand and bring a bottle of water (preferably refillable – you know, save the environment AND save some change) to keep with you during the show. If there is a lunch hour during the show, make sure you’re coordinating with other staffers to make sure the booth is covered while you’re away.

3. No mobile phones except for lead retrieval. No calls. No texting. No e-mail.

We get it. The more time we spend away from our devices, the worse our FOMO becomes. But when it comes to working a trade show booth, it’s no different from holding a deep conversation with your fellow booth staffers while ignoring a prospect.

If a prospect sees that your nose is buried in your phone, they may get the impression that you’re too busy or enthralled with Facebook to talk to them and will make a beeline for the exit. Unless your mobile device is the only method for retrieving leads to follow-up with once you’re back to the hotel or in the office, grandma’s rules for the dinner table also apply in the booth: put your phone in your pocket and pay attention to the people around you.

4. Check with your colleagues before you leave the booth.

It’s impossible to stay in the same spot for 8+ hours and that’s totally understandable. We’re human and we need bathroom, snack, or drink breaks. It’s also possible that you’ll need to take a phone call, take care of a client or family emergency, or step into a meeting at the trade show. Before you step away, make sure the booth is properly staffed or WILL have staff.

When working a trade show booth, it can be tiring, but remaining aware of your body language, checking in with fellow booth staffers, and keeping your focus on potential customers will make all the difference.

When in doubt, think of your grandmother or any other monumental figure in your life: would you say or do in front of them? If the answer is no, you probably should avoid it on the trade show floor, too.


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