I remember the first time I was an exhibitor at a tradeshow about 22 years ago. My boss instructed me on very little but was very clear on one point. Don't sit down
when conference attendees are anywhere in sight. Sitting was the least welcoming sign and would not entice people to walk over to our booth where the "magic" happens.
Note: in photo above, we have removed the chairs so sitting is not an option!
Being an exhibitor is exhausting. Hopefully, as an exhibitor, you are engaging attendees in conversations of substance and making appropriate notes regarding post-show followup. Couple this with the many hours of standing around, and being on your A-game and we all know the body will ache for rest. Regardless, the goal of being an exhibitor in the first place is to foster relationships with prospective customers and to make stronger connections with existing contacts. That takes work. A lot of work.
Recently, my daughter and I attended a college fair. As a high school junior, this was her first exposure to seeking out a significant amount of information from schools. One school in particular, University of Delaware, had a young alumnus who could not hide the passion he has for his alma mater. He stood at his booth, pointed out facts in the brochures he provided and gave specifics to my daughter and me that would be important in the application process. I am positive that we walked away more excited about U of D than we would otherwise have been.
Another school also stood out but for the opposite reasons. We almost missed the "booth" as the table at this, not-to-be-named, university was empty. No brochures or anything. I happened to look up at the name of the school hanging high over the table and realized it was a school on our hit-list. There was a man sitting behind the table when we approached. He never stood up and explained his "man", who had all of the school's materials, didn't make it to the event. He didn't even have a sheet of blank paper to collect inquiring students' information to send materials.
I was baffled by this university representative and his inability to improvise
. I was most offended that he never stood which really did make us feel uncomfortable as we stood over him. He was not the only representative sitting, but the other seated exhibitor was at least enthusiastic and had good materials and information.
Preparation for a tradeshow is essential. This includes planning weeks and months ahead to assure you have the correct booth items (banners, table cover
, brochures, business cards, giveaways, etc.). Having adequate rest, good nutrition and hydration before and during the event should not be taken lightly as some tradeshows are like marathons, especially when they occur over several days.
Things go wrong and attendees will be understanding so having a plan B is also critical
. At the very least, every exhibitor should have a back-up for collecting information for following-up with the people who showed interest. Common courtesy, as in standing and looking at prospects face-to-face, will always go a long way helping to make any glitches appear less obvious. Whether you have great displays and handouts or are lacking such items, when working as an exhibitor, be sure to stand and smile.