In the South, we are raised to be "nice." Nice is always expected, but nice means nothing without sincerity. Too often nice can be a passive-aggressive behavior where you are smiling and nodding while inside you're really rolling your eyes or looking for an escape route. What does this have to do with staffing at your trade show booth? When you're hosting at your booth, you should strive to treat each visitor as you would a guest in your office or home. Here are some suggestions to ensure your guests are sensing sincerity in your interactions at the booth.
The Golden Rule
The atomosphere of large crowds and loud noise at a convention makes social interaction dramatically different than that of our home or office. Before the show even begins, be sure to put yourself into the frame of mind that each and every prospect you encounter is your guest. At our home or office, we treat our guests as we would like to be treated: with respect and sincerity. They should be warmly welcomed and engaged from the moment they step into your booth.
Be prepared by setting up a Plan A (and a Plan B) for set-up, booth staffing, booth supplies, and engaging your guests. Did you make all the appropriate phone calls and contacts to ensure your trade show exhibit will arrive on time and be set up properly? Does your booth staff have their schedule, know where to report to, and what is expected of them? Did you prepare a booth supply kit for yourself and your staff (with pens, notepads, business cards, tissue and wipes, antibacterial hand gel, breath mints, etc.)?
Be sure to plan out every detail so you do not have to be distracted by logistics while you're trying to interact with your guests.
During the Show
Now that the show has begun, it’s your responsibility to make people feel welcome to your space. Smile and take the time to get to know your guests and make them feel comfortable. Respect their space, don't back them into a corner, and be considerate of their time. Your guests understand that you are exhibiting because you have a product or service to sell, so have meaningful conversation with them along with showing them what you have to offer. Pay attention to their cues, and remember that every guest doesn't need a sales pitch as they walk by.
They'll Remember You
As I mentioned, Southern Hospitality is a part of our everyday interaction down here in the South. However, being warm, polite, kind and helpful are good traits to have no matter where in the world you live! As an exhibitor, be sure to thank your guests for their time and let them know you will reach out to them in follow-up. As you make a great impression on the show floor, your guests will remember how you made them feel and will take your follow-up call after the show!