14 / August 2O19

Trade Show Engagement: Showroom Do’s & Don’ts

Trade Show Engagement: Showroom Do’s & Don’ts

You made it. It’s the day you’ve long awaited. We last left off with five tips for planning a killer trade show booth. Now it’s time to discuss what should (and shouldn’t) happen once you hit the trade show floor. It’s time to talk engagement.

Perhaps the most crucial thing to keep in mind throughout what’s sure to be a long and strenuous weekend is that you are a living, breathing extension of your brand.

That’s right. You.

Every decision you make, ranging from what you say to the way you stand, will be judged and linked back to your brand. So let’s run through the obvious and perhaps not-so-obvious best practices for trade show engagement and brand representation.

Actions. They speak louder than words, you know. 

Ever encounter someone who seems naturally approachable? Like they’d give you the shirt off their back if you just asked? That’s a product of positive body language.

Silly as it may sound, the way you carry yourself plays a significant role in developing relationships, and as a result, your success at trade shows. So how might you become more approachable?

trade show do's and dont's. Don't cross you arms

Do smile big

Folding your arms deters others from sparking up a conversation because you appear closed off. At a trade show, you should be anything but. So unfold those arms, practice some toothy grins in the bathroom mirror, and keep your head on a swivel for bashful bystanders.

Don’t lean on the booth

Leaning on booth furniture, or even worse, sitting, makes you look bored and tired—the opposite of engaging.

Do stand up straight

Leaning on booth furniture, or even worse, sitting, makes you look bored and tired—the opposite of engaging. If customers see that, they’ll probably steer clear. So buck up, buddy boy. If you need to take a quick 15, take it to the exhibitor’s lounge or outside. But whatever you do, be sure someone’s at your booth at all times.

Don’t eat garlicky or spicy foods

Do bring breath mints

Everyone’s guilty of the occasional spell of dragon breath, but don’t let that occasion be your next trade show. Truth is, you can have the best of intentions and a slick product to boot, but if your breath is nuclear, no one’s going to stick around to hear about it.

Don’t chew gum at your booth, either. It’s distracting and unprofessional. Bring breath mints, instead.

Don’t stand in a huddle

Do spread out employees

Chatting with a group of fellow employees generally sends an off-strategy message. If you don’t have traffic keeping you busy, why should anyone think you’re worth their time? If you’ve assigned too many employees to your exhibit, perhaps you’re an unorganized company. Trade show attendees think about these kinds of things.

Spread out your employees and make them unmistakably available for consultation. Perhaps one of the most overlooked keys to engagement is simply looking available.

Also, try to meet visitors at the edge of your booth. You want to mitigate any physical barrier existing between you and your prospects.

Don’t show up hungover or reeking of cheap whiskey

Do enjoy yourself

Listen, we get it. Trade shows are generally hosted in cities where there’s plenty of fun to be had. That said, it’s important to keep your one clear business goal in mind. So have fun, but do so in moderation.

It’s also important to remember that you’re never off the clock. Even if you go out for a night on the town, you’re still representing your brand.

Before we go… A few words on words.

Okay, you’ve sufficiently exuded your welcoming vibes, but the work’s not done. Now you’ll need to say something. You know, with your mouth.

Sometime before your next trade show, we implore you to write up five engaging, open-ended questions to stimulate conversation with folks who pop by your booth.

Something like…

Tell me about the project you’re working on…


What are your main objectives this weekend?

This builds rapport, and more importantly, allows you to open a dialogue without resorting to trite, buttoned-up questions like, “Can I help you, sir?” and “What can I do for you, ma’am?” At that point, you may as well talk about the weather.

This brings us to our final point.

Be the person you’d want to meet at a trade show.

Be passionate, honest, and authentic. If you can make these three attributes your bread and butter, everything else will fall into place. If you ever find yourself cramming loads of industry-specific buzzwords into your conversation, stop and reassess. Talk to people like they’re people, not prospects. Even if they are.

Hungry for more trade show engagement tips?

Well, my friend, we’ve got it in spades. If you haven’t already, check out Trade Show Planning: 5 Tips for Showroom Success for insight on the days leading up to your next trade show.

If that’s old news, you’re ready for The Magnetic Method to Trade Show Madness, our complete guide for planning and executing a first-rate exhibit.
Trade shows are tough work, no doubt. But it’s the companies that put the most work into their trade show endeavors that ultimately nab the highest return. So be sure to subscribe and stay tuned.