By Tracy Ruberg 2021-10-12

We’ve all been there. We attend a conference and there is the “Trade Show” – that place where vendors have their booths set up, they are probably giving things away to get your attention and they want your contact information. Many of us don’t like to talk to people we don’t know, after all, we’ve been taught from a young age to “stay away from strangers” and let’s be honest, as IT Professionals, there is a good chance it may not be our natural inclination. The flip side is that we are working in one of these booths and we have to get Attendees attention and identify opportunities to sell our services once the event is over. We’ve outlined some basic types for making the most of the Trade Show function for both Attendees and Booth Staff below. It is our hope that these will make it more comfortable for you to get the most out of the Trade Show no matter which side of the booth you are on.

Attendees: First and foremost, recognize that it is Vendors’ sponsorship dollars that make it possible for events like the one you are attending possible. Without them, the cost for you to attend would easily be 2-3 times what you were charged. Vendors have a great deal of information they can share. They see their applications across LOTS of companies, industries, use cases, etc. Also, they are investing heavily in research to stay ahead of the curve and bring the ‘next big thing’ to the field. As a result, it makes sense for you to learn as much as you can while they are there. It can save you a ton of time compared to having to reach out to all of them via email or their websites. So, some tips to help you navigate the Trade Show floor.

  • Be open to talking with the Booth Staff – even if it is just to say ‘hello’.
  • Try to visit with as many as you can and learn what they have to offer. They should all be able to give you a quick overview of their value so you can decide how much of your time (and theirs) you want to take.
  • Be clear if you are not a good target for them BUT don’t assume that you are not a target until you know what they do.
  • It is ok to ask for their giveaway items – they don’t want to have to pack them up and take them back to the office but don’t be greedy.

Booth Staff: Thank you for agreeing to participate and sponsor the event. We know that without you, we couldn’t have these types of events! We know that the reason you have agreed to sponsor and man a booth is because you want to identify new business opportunities that you can, of course, actually close. We’ve outlined some tips to help you make the most of your investment.

  • Be approachable:
    • Stand in FRONT of the booth. If you must sit, have stools that keep you at eye contact with Attendees
    • Smile
    • Make eye contact
    • Don’t cross your arms or have your hands in your pockets
  • Talk with attendees and not your colleagues.
  • Don’t eat in the booth. Some people say you shouldn’t have any drinks either but I think that’s a little backward. Just don’t use that as a “wall” between you and the attendees. By all means, keep trash cleared away and the booth neat.
  • Don’t lean on furniture or walls or chairs.
  • Be polite – THANK Attendees that made the effort to stop – even if they may not be a good target for you.

Following these simple guidelines can make for a great experience for everyone – both Attendees and Sponsors.