Trade Shows

What ever happened to Trade Show Etiquette?

by Kevin Hawkins on May 22, 2015

It could be just me. I may have attended too many trade shows. Yet somehow I believe Emily Post would have been appalled if she walked the exhibits at NAR Midyear. To add a little context, I have attended, exhibited, sponsored and run trade shows. In fact, I’m afraid to count the number of miles I have walked on trade show floors, having attended many NAR-FAR-CAR annuals, NAR Midyears, HomeBuilders/IBS, PCBCs, COMDEX, CES, IBC and others. I have also been the lead for many firms exhibiting at these same shows, and have found myself staffing exhibits, including too many hours at a booth that was in the bowels of a covered bus garage at the Sheraton in Hawaii (NAR 1987). I helped Brad Inman produce more than a half-dozen of the first Real Estate Connects, so I have done more than worked the floor or staffed a booth: I sold all the space and sponsorships. So I am probably being a hard ass about all this when I ask: What ever happened to Trade Show etiquette? Rules to follow Less than a minute after I walked inside the hall on Thursday at 2 pm at NAR Midyear, I was taken aback. I looked around the room and I saw body language at almost every exhibit that said “Stay away, I’m busy.” People were eating and drinking (water, sodas) at their booths. Rule #1: Never eat or drink at a booth, do it somewhere else. Yes, if budget constraints leave you as the sole staffer, you need to drink water and stay hydrated. But do it discretely. I’m not going to come talk to you if you are leaning up against a counter in the back of your booth with a water bottle in your hand. If you are eating at your booth, well, think about the message that sends: We can’t afford to have anyone else here, so I have to eat at my booth. I don’t think that’s a message that you want tied to your brand. People were sitting in chairs, behind and next to counters. Rule #2: Stand, don’t sit. This is where most people make the biggest mistake. The best way to engage people is when you are standing. If you are sitting, you send the message you really don’t care or are too tired to stand. Either way, that doesn’t invite me to talk to […]

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