Recently I attended a trade show where there were many businesses showing off their products or services with booths staffed by their representatives. There were large booths with several people speaking with attendees of the show, and there were smaller ones with 1-2 people present. There were grandiosely decorated booths and simpler ones.
We have all either been an attendee at one of these shows, or we have been one of the booth owners. There are several common sense guidelines that should be followed when being in either position. Anyone might benefit from being in either position if one follows some of these guidelines and treats the show as a business situation.
The attitude of an attendee or a representative of a booth holder is very important. This is a business event and should be treated as such. This is work and an opportunity to market ourselves and our businesses. Just like any other networking event, we can make it a successful opportunity by our attitude and our actions, or we can fail to take advantage of the situation by our attitude and behavior towards others.
We must be active. If we are attending an event, take the initiative and speak to everyone in their booths. Treat them as if the conversation was taking place in their office. Be professional and find out about what they offer and what they might need. The same holds true if we are the person in the booth representing the business in question. Be professional, answer questions, and try to build relationships.
Everyone who visits a booth will not necessarily need or want what the business offers. However, they may know someone who does, or they may realize a need at a later date. The visitor may have information about other opportunities for the booth holder to market their products or services that may help the business better themselves. The very limited time spent in conversation may reward either or both parties in ways that they may not anticipate. Remember information is powerful.
A booth holder must have a representative in their booth who is actively working to market the business. Sitting behind a table, reading a book, and passing time is not going to bring success. An informational booth with material for visitors to take, without someone there to greet them, will never be successful. (I passed up 3 such booths at the event I attended.) If we are working in a booth, we cannot be alone. We must have someone to assist us for breaks and other reasons.
We must have materials which will enable a booth visitor to take with them for later reference. If we are attending a show, we must be willing to provide information for the booth representatives to follow-up with us. A lack of such material does not show professionalism on either part, and we must have a sufficient supply for the entire show. Many subsequent contacts have been made through information contained in such material, and it must be complete, especially with contact information.