trade show

How to Thrive at a Business Expo: Making the Most of Trade Shows

Trade Shows and Business Expos can be opportunities for successfully promoting your business – or boring and time-consuming affairs. But a little planning beforehand and a few event survival skills can go a long way towards making these necessary events not only profitable, but at times, even fun.

What to Plan and What to Pack


  1. Never just fly blind into a Trade Show or Expo situation. Remember that you – or your company – have probably paid a princely sum to the event organizers to be there and it’s essential that your goals for this event have been clearly expressed to everyone who will be on the exhibit floor. Is the goal to introduce a new business or product? If so, how will that goal be effectively accomplished? Is the goal to close sales? If so, what will you be offering during the event that will help clinch the deal? Is the goal to simply raise your company’s profile in the business community? If so, does everything single aspect of your booth presentation speak to that mission – and is the staff that will be manning your booth fully trained to speak to that mission?
  2. Send a pre-event notice (including any “day of the event” special offers) to your entire database of clients and prospects. Be sure to include your booth number for the event!
  3. Write your follow-up email/letter before the event and have it ready to send out as soon as you return to the office to all of the people you connected with and all the cards you collected that day – and don’t even think about not sending one….
  4. Before you leave the office, plan and pack a ‘survival kit’ for the event. This survival kit should include:
  • Extra business cards.
  • Extra promotional materials.
  • Notepads and pens for each staff member to keep proper track of contacts made, promises for follow-up information and anything else that needs to be remembered for post show action.
  • Masking and scotch tape.
  • Scissors.
  • Extra “S” hooks.
  • A simple first aid kit that includes a pain reliever, an anti-biotic cream and band aids.
  • Cleansing wipes
  • Bottled water.
  • A no-mess snack.
  1. Wear comfortable shoes – you may be on your feet for hours at a time!

Show Day Salesmanship


  1. Speaking of “being on your feet,” the key to “connecting” with prospective clients at a show is never to seem bored, distracted or tired – which means, no sitting behind the table when you’re on duty. It also means greeting folks, when they glance in your booth’s direction and smiling!
  2. Dress comfortably – but professionally. Layering your outfit is also a good idea, as event venues can range from being way too warm to being way to cold and to project your best image, you need to feel comfortable.
  3. Don’t be too pushy. Event salesmanship is the epitome of the “soft sell.”
  4. Ask questions about a prospective client’s own business or business needs. The more you get them talking about themselves, the longer they stay at your booth before moving on – and the more you learn about their needs. (here’s where that little notebook comes in handy…)
  5. Make sure at least one person from your team takes the time to visit all the other exhibitors’ booths and introduces themselves. This is the ultimate B2B situation and every exhibitor is also a potential client. Get to know them!
  6. Plan to set-up on time, and as scheduled, and plan to stay set-up until the end of the show. It’s bad manners – and noticed – if you come late or strike your booth early when others have played by the event’s rules.
  7. No matter how tired you are, stay for any apres-event social hour. A lot of appointments for future follow-ups get set then.

Post- Event Follow-Up


  1. Within a week of the event, make sure you:
  2. Send out those follow-up emails/letters you write earlier
  3. Call every person you promised to call with any information you promised to follow-up with
  4. Set any appointments that still might be set from the contacts you made that day.

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