Trade Show Networking Etiquette

While exhibiting at trade show events, the trade show booth is essentially the face of your company and brand. Designing a booth and marketing materials appropriately is just one part of a successful campaign; employees who dress, behave, and hand out business cards properly have an impact on how others perceive you and your business. To stand out, tailor the exhibit and etiquette to the standards of your industry and keep in touch with the people you connect with.

The True Purpose of the Trade Show

Trade shows provide the opportunity to promote your company and brand. It is important for a business owner or manager to attend these events regularly. By offering guests a personal face to the organization and its brand, you can give a great impression.

Everything you do at trade show events must be approached from a public relations perspective. The contacts met at the show can become valuable clients and customers in the future. Improper conduct, however, can damage a company’s reputation and brand image.

Networking Etiquette Tips

proper etiquette for trade showsPresenting yourself appropriately means dressing for the occasion. Some trade shows are more casual while others are more formal. Technology professionals tend to dress in a more casual manner. On the other hand, sales-oriented meetings often host suited guests. It is important to reflect your corporate identity as well. In addition to the design of popup trade show displays and other elements, the way you and your staff dress and present the company can communicate a very specific message to attendees.

Dress Code

Proper dress code can vary from one trade show to another. Choose attire based on how you want to represent the company. Logos can be worn, but be careful of inexpensive options which often look as cheap as they are. Also be mindful of the schedule; what is worn at the trade show itself may not be the best choice for related activities such as cocktail parties or gatherings on the beach, for example.

Assertiveness

Stand tall, smile, and introduce yourself. This is a much more effective strategy than waiting around for people to talk to you. Don’t be afraid to create a script of what you want to say; speaking professionally can go a long way in capturing attention and forging lasting business relationships. Additionally, assert yourself to the guests at the show.

Business Cards

It is absolutely essential to have high-quality business cards at trade show events. A professional card not only represents your brand; it provides a means for one to remember and contact you. It should be properly branded and offer easy to read contact information. The way you request and distribute the cards is an important consideration. You should first build a rapport with the person and ask for their card later in the conversation.

Listen Carefully

Taking a passive approach at the booth defeats the purpose of attending the event. While you might not have a lot of time to talk to someone, doing more than self-promotion helps establish a networking contact. Ask questions and listen for details which can spark more queries during the discussion. It will help further develop your relationship with the other person.

Behave Appropriately

Professional etiquette, of course, incorporates maturity, but some trade show exhibitors may forget this. It’s not likely potential customers will approach the booth if its attendants are eating, drinking, or smoking. Unless there are high stools, it’s better to stand up and be at eye level with passersby. Disruptive behavior, loud music, or unprofessional appearance can be a major turn-off. Perhaps the biggest deterrence, however, is conversing with a co-worker in the booth – staff must engage with the audience and show they are appreciative of everyone’s time.

Don’t Forget the Trade Media

Potential clients, vendors, and customers are not the only ones a business can approach at trade show events. The trade media can be a great target for your marketing efforts. Introduce yourself professionally and try to establish a good rapport; the media can be a valuable asset. As such, be sure to have additional information, quotes, artwork, and press releases. Product and company news releases are great information sources for when a media outlet chooses to cover your business.

Gifts and Gratitude

The relationships you forge go beyond the event. A great first impression can be accompanied by gifts for attendees. Be sure a gift campaign is in good taste and socially acceptable. While humorous gifts are effective attention-getters, it’s important to know your audience beforehand.

Recognizing the contributions of others to your success is also highly recommended. Whether a gift of gratitude is for the truck or limo driver, the person who sets up the popup trade show displays, or the show producer, such a gesture instills a more favorable impression. Additionally, the same people may be willing to help again the next time. Gift cards for stores and restaurants are a current trend in showing gratitude at trade show events.

Northwest Creative Imaging has a strong background in manufacturing and the trade show industry overall. Created for online retailing, the company sells popup trade show displays and other products to help client businesses maximize the effectiveness of their trade show campaigns. Visit Northwest Creative Imaging today to learn more about the company’s multimedia, stretch fabric, truss, table top, custom modular, and outdoor displays as well as event tents, banner stands, and trade show accessories.

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